Deliverable 5.4: Sustainability impacts of potential innovations in the supply chain of livestock and fish, and fruit and vegetables, and sustainable future diets (Report on T5.4)
To assess different possible future directions for the EU food system, potential innovations were identified towards achieving sustainable healthy diets within the EU. The innovations focused on two cases, the ‘livestock and fish case’ and the ‘fruit and vegetable case’. For both supply chains there are concerns regarding the current European diet (excessive consumption of livestock and too low consumption of fruit, vegetables and seafood). For animal production, i.e. livestock and seafood, environmental concerns (land use, GHG emissions, fish stock depletion etc.) are particularly pressing. Based on the current production systems and stakeholder consultation, we assessed the following innovations: novel feeding strategies, including use of waste to increase circularity in livestock production, and the potential of non-conventional foods (e.g. insects), as the innovation pathway for animal-based production. For fisheries we assessed fishing sustainably as the future innovation. Innovations for ‘the fruit and vegetable case’ focussed on increasing people’s fruit and vegetable intake by stimulating a reduction of food waste. Our results demonstrate that livestock reared solely on biomass unsuited for human consumption could still provide a significant part of our daily protein need. Livestock feed is therefore largely decoupled from arable land reducing the pressure on arable land to produce food. Livestock fed with by-products, food waste and grass supplies 31 g of protein /(cap*d) (5 g from pork, 20 g from dairy, 6 g from dairy meat). An additional 1 g comes from fisheries and another 1 g from aquaculture (salmon) meat fed with slaughter waste and co-products from fisheries. This supply fulfils about 60% of our protein requirement. Requirements of omega-3 in the form of DHA and EPA are met by about 66% from salmon and captured fish. Collectively livestock and fish fulfil the full vitamin B12, which is only available in animal, fish products and some non-conventional foods. Calcium requirements are met by about 94%, iron by about 15%, zinc by about 61% and selenium by about 55%. The additional nutrients that we require can be met by consuming plant-based foods or non-conventional foods such as insects or algae. Our results showed that non-conventional foods contain the complete array of essential nutrients and may be better substitutes for animal-source foods than plant-source foods. Moreover, future foods are efficient use of limited land resources if substituted for animal-source foods, and if produced with renewable energy, they also offer benefits in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Fishing sustainably and directing more of the catches to food directly has the potential to almost double food production and the nutritional contribution from EU fisheries. Our results therefore showed that combining animal-source food from animals that are not fed with human food, with additional non-conventional foods and plant-source food offer great potential to reduce the environmental impact of our food system while safeguarding our nutrient requirement. The results from the fruit and vegetable case, furthermore, showed that reducing food waste indeed reduces the environmental impact while it simultaneously indirectly simulates people to increase their fruit and vegetable intake and therefore contributes as well to more healthy diets. Our assessed innovation packages – feeding animals with products we cannot or do not want to eat, fishing sustainably, replacing the consumption of ASF with non-conventional food and plant-based food, and reducing food waste (especially fruit and vegetables) – provides a pathway towards achieving sustainable healthy diets within the EU.
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