The big food redesign: Technical appendix
Published in September 2021
By putting in place product development strategies that combine the four circular design opportunities – diverse, lower-impact, upcycled, and regeneratively produced ingredients – businesses can transform their ingredient portfolios.
Credible plans could include:
Clear goals to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss
Assessment of current environmental and economic impacts at the farm level
Development of new mechanisms that empower teams to design food products in line with ingredient portfolio goals
Forming strategic partnerships and strong working relationships with farmers is at the heart of circular design for food. Because regenerative farm systems are established according to their context, there is no universal pathway for every farmer to follow. By designing with farmers, FMCGs and retailers can embed evolving farm system realities in food design strategies over time.
FMCGs and retailers can:
reshape relationships across the value chain
make the economics work by establishing new contract terms, buying models and cost-sharing initiatives
facilitate knowledge sharing between farmers.
Redesigning portfolios and renovating core products at scale to capture the clear long-term economic and environmental opportunities will take time. To get started and build momentum, FMCGs and retailers can show what is possible through new products that bring circular design for food to life. This can allow businesses to create space for designers to experiment and learn, test new concepts with consumers, gain frontrunner advantage, and build a compelling business case.
To design products that allow nature to thrive, new metrics and definitions are needed to determine what qualifies as regenerative production, measure farm-level impacts of product design decisions, track progress towards company targets, and provide stakeholders and customers with accurate information on product benefits. Businesses can play a key role in developing and applying such metrics and definitions, while considering local contexts.
As governments progressively recognise the critical role food system transformation can play in tackling climate change and biodiversity loss – thereby achieving a number of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – businesses can accelerate policy development by advocating for measures that support circular design for food and a nature-positive food system.
To quote the study, please use the following reference: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The big food redesign: Regenerating nature with the circular economyA systems solution framework that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution. It is based on three principles, driven by design: eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials (at their highest value), and regenerate nature. (2021).
Rather than bending nature to produce food, food can be designed for nature to thrive
To design for positive consumer, economic, farmer, and environmental outcomes, food design can be...
This topic area shows how moving to a circular economy for food will help people and nature thrive.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation works to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. We develop and promote the idea of a circular economy, and work with business, academia, policymakers, and institutions to mobilise systems solutions at scale, globally.
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