BATTLE CREEK, MICH. — Nigel Hughes, PhD, senior vice president of global R&D at the Kellogg Co., published a blog post on the company website May 18 outlining three strategies the food industry could undertake to update current food systems with an eye to the future. Dr. Hughes’s advice focused primarily on increasing sustainability throughout the supply chain, from ingredient sourcing to production methods.

The first strategy, “Build on the foundations and heritage of the original food system,” highlighted the cultural significance of food and the growing relevance of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policies in consumer purchasing decisions. Citing the origins of the Kellogg Co., Dr. Hughes discussed the importance of looking to the past to understand patterns of success and failure and apply this knowledge to future decisions.

“When we source local ingredients, we can create truly local, culturally relevant foods,” Dr. Hughes said. “Couple that with a systems approach that allows us to look at the food system and the combination holistically, it enables us to address food insecurity and balance the tradeoffs of nutrition, sustainability, access, and taste — ultimately creating a sustainable food system.”

The second strategy, “Develop collective solutions,” emphasized the importance of communication and creating a sense of shared responsibility throughout food systems to combat detrimental climate practices. He suggested this begin with the inclusion of farmers, consumers, policymakers and NGOs throughout decision-making processes.

Dr. Hughes referenced current programs in place at the Kellogg Co., including Kellogg’s InGrained, which offers rice farmers in the Lower Mississippi River Basin financial incentives to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by employing climate-friendly agricultural practices. This partnership, along with others, seeks to address the interconnected food system issues of health, hunger relief and climate, according to the company.

The third and final strategy, “Accelerate the circular food system,” suggests shifting from a linear to a circular food system that prioritizes food waste reduction. Employing regenerative farming practices, upcycling “ugly produce” and reducing resource inputs are some practices that can help achieve a more circular supply chain. Examples given from the Kellogg Co. include Pringles using 75% rejected potatoes, Nutrigrain bars being filled wholly with non-saleable, misshapen fruits and Rice Krispies and Cocoa Pops rejects getting turned into beer with a partnered brewery.  

“An equitable food system creates a new paradigm where everyone has a seat at the table, can fully participate, gain access and prosper,” Dr. Hughes said. “It’s critical we as an industry work together to achieve this.”