What would you like to search for?

16th APRSCP 2022: BACK-TO-BACK (Side Event 3): Building sustainability into the Agri-food value chains : Future Food Together

Sustainability is set to become the new business model for the rest of the 21st century. To stay in business, tomorrow’s companies need to build value continually, innovate in productivity and increase profits. Nothing new here.

Running a “sustainable” business, and business approach that helps solving environmental and socioeconomic problems, is not about recycling and tree-planting programmes, it’s about putting sustainability at the core of your shareholder value proposition. To achieve sustainability transformation in companies or to innovate business practices for sustainable development, the business operations need to be transformed to address sustainable values.

Agri-food and forest systems are vital for meeting the needs of society, the economy, and the planet. They play significant roles in production, trade, and the environment. Companies in the agri-food sector are under increasing pressure to adopt sustainable practices that consider not only economic but also both social and environmental aspects. The growing attention paid by policy makers, non-governmental organizations and scholars has prompted agri-food companies to incorporate sustainability into their corporate strategies. On the consumption side, food security, health concerns, climate change, and sustainability that are leading towards reduction of resources used and environmental footprints are increasingly shaping individual consumption choices, or diets, and becoming important themes at a policy and social level.

Global trends: challenges and opportunities1

As the prime connection between people and the planet, sustainable food and agriculture have great potential to address many of our challenges, serving up affordable, nutritious food, strengthening livelihoods, revitalizing rural and urban landscapes, delivering inclusive national growth, and driving positive change. Value chain actors involved in the agri-food systems—growers, food processors, distributors, retailers, consumers, and food waste managers—can play a role in ensuring a sustainable food system.

Enabling policy environment; In recent years, an increasing number of governments have started implementing policies and strategies to meet this objective. For instance, the EU Farm to Folk strategy, the UN Food system summit in 2021 where many countries adopted Sustainable National Food System pathways. Nevertheless, stronger efforts are needed to significantly improve the sustainability in the agrifood value chains, especially stronger emphasis for sustainable agriculture, materials management and the circularity of economies across the world.

Green investment trend, emerging technologies and innovations; the Agri-food industry is being increasingly eyed by entrepreneurs and investors. A crop of new, promising technologies that have the potential to reshape agriculture is emerging. Investors are showing greater interest in the Agri-food industry and its startups. The amount of money pouring into Agri Food tech has increased more than sixfold since 2012: from $3 billion to almost $18 billion in 2021, according to AgFunder.

The digitalization of agri-food supply chains, and innovative business models; Digitalization enables food supply chains to be highly integrated, effective, and responsive to consumer demands and regulatory requirements. It also facilitates development of a shorter and decarbonizing supply chain. In addition, Innovative business models are emerging in the agri-food sector to fulfill the existing gap towards closedloop and nature positive- food supply chains.

Growing demands for sustainable agri-food products: The climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic offer countries an opportunity to build recovery plans that will reverse current trends and change our consumption and production patterns towards a more sustainable future. Consumers spent a total of €8.2 billion environmentally friendly products in 2020, an increase of 7% compared to 2019. The share of sustainable products in total food spending increased by 2% in that year2

Circular economy and agroecology approach: The circular economy attempts to reduce consumption of resources by promoting a more efficient use of materials and energy through reuse and recycling of waste. Agroecology aims to close cycles at a maximum geographical scale, such as that of agriculture and livestock farming. Utilization of renewable resources, maximizing the efficient use of resources and maximum possible reuse of waste, all of which leads to an improvement in the emissions balance by the agro-food system as a whole. “Agroecology and Circular economy” serves to highlight the importance of employing renewable and circular resources in the future of agriculture and food production. 

Event Objectives:

Leveraging the importance and opportunity for building sustainability into the Agri-food value chains, WWF Thailand under project SCP- Future Food Together, together with key partners hosted a BACK-TO-BACK (Side Event) of the 16th APRSCP 2022, which brought together practitioners to discuss on opportunities and business approaches for building sustainability into the Agri-food value chains.

The session presented and showcased business models, key value propositions, and recommendations for companies and policy makers to address sustainability issues, within the agri-food value chains, based on market research and social listening of Thai’s consumers and agri-food businesses. Through the examples the value chain development on the basis of inclusion and justice, circular economy, protecting and restoring nature and empowering consumers to make better-informed decisions, as core values of business operations, could be key approach to ensure that all people have nourishing & healthy food, and that this is produced in the way that promote restoration of forest, improvement of soil, biodiversity, and deliver stronger rural livelihoods and resilience.

Partners in the Session
  • WWF Thailand
  • Agricultural and Food Marketing Association for Asia and the Pacific (AFMA)
  • Thai Organic Innovation Foundation (TOF)
  • Thailand Development Research Institutes (TDRI)

1 Information note of Switch Asia Facility: Rethinking Agri-food Systems through Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (June 2022)
2 Annual Sustainable Food Monitor of Wageningen University & Research.

Key Insights From our Speakers

Watch the Full Event Recording