The food system faces a multitude of challenges, including high greenhouse gas emissions, threats to biodiversity, increased diet-related diseases due to unbalanced diets, and socially problematic complex supply chains. This requires not only a transformation of the agricultural economy but also a change in the diet and lifestyles of all consumers. Developing and using digital and technological innovations can help to solve these challenges. In this context, the new study "Digitalisation for sustainable nutrition: Opportunities for shaping production and consumption" by the Wuppertal Institute provides impulses on how digitalisation can contribute to transforming production and consumption and which prerequisites have to be given to achieve this.
"Digitisation can be an approach for agriculture, processing, trade, as well as for the final consumer. This can support a societal transformation and, closely related to this, a technological transformation, too," says Prof. Dr. Christa Liedtke, Director of the Sustainable Production and Consumption Division at the Wuppertal Institute and co-author of the study. "However, it is also important to create the necessary underlying institutional, societal and political conditions, initiating the essential course of transformation, such as a revised common European agricultural policy," adds Lena Hennes, Junior Researcher in the Product and Consumption Systems Research Unit at the Wuppertal Institute and also co-author of the study. Then, digitalisation could help support the transformation of the food system.
The study describes the approaches for digitalisation along the value chain. These include optimising the use of resources in agriculture – for example with the help of smart farming – and supporting consumers with digital tools and assistance systems – such as apps designed to support grocery shopping. In addition, new business models and a better connection between production and consumption processes are also possible. This includes, for example, new digital sales channels or tracking and communicating sustainability indicators such as CO2 emissions across all steps of the value chain in order to enable all stakeholders to take reliable action.
The study was developed within the project "ShapingDIT: Shaping Digitalisation – Enabling Transformation towards Sustainability" on behalf of Huawei Technologies Deutschland and can be found free of charge under the link below.