Nothing has impacted the food industry as much as COVID has in the last 12 months, with global supply chains drastically changing to work around the constraints of the pandemic. However, if we are to learn one lesson from the past year, it’s that collaboration will be key to helping us address the food system’s sustainability profile.
Looking back to February 2020, conversations about bringing extra resilience to supply chains had been growing in momentum, with increasing acceptance that new technologies and approaches would be required if we are to feed an ever-growing global population.
And while much of this progress has been put on hold to handle the pandemic, the past few months have proved that collaboration combined with evolution, not revolution, are key to moving the world towards a new era of food security.
We can see how the supply chain adapted in response to incredible global pressures. From the need to isolate workforces and reduce the threat of the virus to the subsequent problems this caused to an industry that has evolved to work on just-in-time delivery models, we have found ways to adapt what we do to ensure that we can all still have breakfast in the mornings and dinner in the evenings.
Integration of novel proteins into the feed supply chain is one such way to do this. If we can make more use of nutritious feed ingredients such as fermented single cell proteins that don’t stress food production elsewhere or negatively impact the planet’s crucial biodiversity we can drastically reduce the environmental impact of fish – which is already the lowest-impact form animal protein you can buy.
Similarly, cross industry collaboration can be used to not only reduce supply chain risk, but also to accelerate the adoption of new technologies – opening the door for further innovation.
Importantly, this has to be economically viable. Feed companies won’t integrate a product into their feeds if it’s not financially in their interest or doesn’t add significant value. Solutions must be available at scale and must provide the nutrition needed to produce a high-quality product. Being able to show how that contributes to delivering a sustainable product will also be important, initially adding value – but long term this will be a standard requirement of the sector and early adopters will benefit accordingly.
Aquaculture is ahead of the game here, and there are already lessons that wider supply chains can learn from. For example, novel feeds such as our own FeedKind® protein have already been tested in commercial settings to significant success. As we scale up with the construction of our first commercial production facility in China, more innovations are coming forward, with other single-cell proteins, insect protein and algae-based solutions promising alternatives for farmers to consider.
This week, I will join a panel to look at this issue as part of the Economist’s World Ocean Summit event, joining a panel of industry experts to discuss how aquaculture is changing in the pursuit of greater sustainability; Melanie Siggs, director of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, moderated the session, which also included Petter Johansson of the IFFO and Carlos Diaz, CEO of Biomar.
Join us and hear our thoughts on how these new and emerging technologies could help bring extra resilience to the supply chain – and how we can tackle the challenges we all face in the future.
Allan LeBlanc, Vice President, Aquaculture Lead, CalystaBack to journal