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Sustainable Foods Summit Part 3: Health Impacts

In the final instalment of the Sustainable Foods Summit blog series, we take a look at the health impacts surrounding sustainable food. With obesity rates rising rapidly all over the world and the impact of agri-chemical pollution in the food chain, it’s certainly time to rethink global food production.

According to data analytics company, Nielsen, the health revolution has begun.

  • Consumers want more transparency and choice
  • Governments are using legislation to help make change e.g. sugar tax, product labelling etc
  • Businesses must act now

Sustainable foods summit health impacts

With the average European now taking in 500 more calories per day, it’s no surprise that obesity levels have doubled since the 1980’s. According to the Nielsen Global Health and Wellness Survey Q2 2014 (European stats):

  • 70% of consumers are actively using their diet to help prevent health issues
  • 71% are now more discerning about their food choices opting for local, natural and organic alternatives where possible
  • Only 51% trust health claims on food packages
  • 64% pay close attention to ingredients in the food they consume
  • 68% feel more positive about companies that are transparent about how products are made

With health continuing to remain a number one priority, both retailers and manufacturers must be proactive in terms of transparency with ingredients and labelling, using more natural, simple ingredients, product reformulation and innovation in functional foods.

Transparency wins

One company which is leading the way in terms of campaigning for organic foods is international fresh fruit and vegetable distributor, Eosta.

Current intensive farming systems pollute the land and kill bio-diversity. With people eating large volumes of highly processed and poor-quality food, there is a huge reliance on drugs to combat the effects. And the health impacts are only going to get worse.

Sustainable Foods Summit health impacts

Eosta prides itself on its close working relationships with all of its growers around the world and only works with organic and fair-trade producers. As their Founder, Volkert Engelsman (featured in the picture above) said, “There is no such thing as sustainability without eliminating pesticides from the food chain.” Clearly organic is the way forward.

Eosta created a system called Nature & More, which provides consumers with transparency about the produce they are buying. All fruit and vegetables are marked with a three-digit ‘trace & tell’ code. This links to the ‘Grower Passport’, which is hosted on a website and tells the sustainability story of the farmer and his/her crops covering health, climate, water, soil, bio-diversity and social.

Sustainable Foods Summit Health impacts Eosta grower passport

Notably, Eosta is also known for its health campaigning and provocative advertising. The company released adverts featuring a hospital bed in a supermarket next to crates of apples stating: “Buy organic apples and save yourself 27 sick days per year.” A compelling argument for anyone considering whether to choose organic or not!

Sustainable Foods Summit Health impacts Eosta advert

Raw is best…

Another company which is leading the way in terms of healthy foods is Lovechock, which produces delicious tasting raw chocolate that is still made by hand in Equador. With ‘conscious living’ at the heart of the business, Founder, Franziska Rosario says: “Consumers should think about their bodies (eat less sugar, less processed and more natural foods), think of others and think of mother nature.”

Inspired by her travels around India, Franziska wanted to get back to basics and live a more holistic and natural lifestyle. Seeing the positive benefits of eating raw foods, this spurred her on to set up the company.

The production process for Lovechock is like no other in the chocolate manufacturing world. Instead of being roasted, the beans are cold ground which ensures they retain their vitamins, minerals, flavonoids (the largest group of antioxidants) and mood enhancers, or as the company calls them, ‘Lovechemicals’.

Lovechock raw chocolate health impacts

It goes without saying that less energy and natural resources are used in the production of raw, organic food. Plus, according to the Giesen Raw Food study, the more raw food you eat, the lower your BMI. So if eating raw food is good for your health and good for the planet, could it be the way forward?

And finally…

In the final session of the conference, our very own Head of Strategy, Ed Silk, took to the stage to discuss ‘Sustaining Strategies for Sustainable Foods’. Currently, there is a lot of complexity, confusion and contradiction surrounding sustainable foods. With a plethora of messages and endorsements for consumers to navigate through, it’s no wonder some brands can’t achieve the cut-through they need. To win, brands must keep their designs simple with one strong, key message. After presenting case studies for Quorn and Green & Black’s the audience were shown best in class examples of how this works in practice.

Bulletproof presentation Quorn health impacts

It was safe to say that I left the conference with a much deeper understanding of current sustainability issues as well as a renewed enthusiasm to make more changes in my life. It amazed me just how much some companies and individuals are doing to make a difference, not only for the planet, but for the social welfare of those working in this industry too. Our planet is precious and so are our people. It’s certainly time for change…

Blog written by Debbie.