Transforming the Way We Source and Consume Food
The future of food is often depicted as a realm of sci-fi-like inventions and unconventional ingredients. However, according to Beatriz Jacoste Lozano, director of the KM ZERO Food Innovation Hub, the future of food will be much more familiar and rooted in our cultural identity. In an interview with TNW at the Valencia Digital Summit, Jacoste Lozano emphasized the need for sustainable and delicious food that caters to our emotional connection with what we eat. As our current food system faces numerous challenges, from biodiversity loss to climate change, it is crucial to reform the way we produce and consume food for the health of both the planet and humanity.
The Broken Food System
The food industry, dominated by multinational corporations, perpetuates unsustainable and unhealthy patterns of production and consumption. This system not only contributes to biodiversity loss but also accounts for 30% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Agriculture expansion is responsible for 80% of global deforestation, while hunger and malnutrition still afflict 900 million people worldwide. Reforming our food system is essential to address these issues and ensure a sustainable future.
KM ZERO’s Approach to Change
KM ZERO Food Innovation Hub aims to drive change through open innovation and investment. By analyzing the sustainability challenges faced by the food industry, such as packaging waste and carbon emissions, KM ZERO scouts for solutions from startups. These innovative ideas, ranging from novel materials to regenerative practices, are then connected with investors, food industry partners, and retailers to scale their impact. With over €3 billion in funding available from associated venture capitalists, KM ZERO acts as a catalyst for the change needed in the food industry.
Tackling Food Waste and Changing Perceptions
Our disconnection from the food production process contributes to massive amounts of food waste. Approximately one-third of all food produced goes to waste each year, resulting in significant greenhouse gas emissions. KM ZERO addresses this issue through its Gastro Genius Lab initiative, which educates children about the challenges of food waste and encourages them to develop a positive relationship with food. Startups like Mimica and Trazable are also using innovative solutions, such as temperature-sensitive tags and blockchain technology, to reduce food waste and improve traceability.
Exploring New Protein Sources
Startups like Mimic Seafood and MOA Foodtech are revolutionizing the food industry by developing new protein sources. MOA Foodtech combines biotechnology and AI to transform agri-food industry by-products into a “next-generation protein” with all nine essential amino acids. This protein powder can be added to various products to enhance their nutritional value. By utilizing mycelium or algae and employing high-precision fermentation, these startups are creating plant-based protein alternatives that are both nutritious and appealing to a wider audience.
Invisible Food Tech Innovation
In addition to novel food products, innovation is also taking place in food production ecosystems. For instance, regenerative agriculture can reduce water demand by 75% by promoting healthy soil. This becomes crucial in regions facing droughts, where importing food becomes necessary due to decreased local production. Furthermore, startups like Notpla are addressing the issue of plastic waste by creating compostable packaging made from seaweed. These “unsexy” innovations are essential for a sustainable future.
The future of food is not limited to futuristic technologies and unconventional ingredients. Instead, it is about transforming our broken food system by embracing sustainability, regenerative practices, and innovative solutions. KM ZERO Food Innovation Hub plays a crucial role in driving this change by connecting startups, investors, and the food industry. By addressing issues such as food waste, protein sources, and ecosystem sustainability, we can create a future where delicious and culturally aligned food nourishes both people and the planet.