Big Food Redesign Challenge: It’s time to redesign food for nature to thrive
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Big Food Redesign Challenge aims to inspire the food industry to...
“We must change the way we make our food”
Ellen MacArthur Foundation launches industry challenge to redesign our food system
May 24, 2023, London – We can, and we must, redesign the way we produce our food to allow nature to thrive. To help accelerate this change, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in partnership with the Sustainable Food Trust, is launching a challenge that will bring together producers, retailers, start-ups, and suppliers to embrace circular food design.
As part of the Big Food Redesign Challenge, participants will be tasked with designing new food products – or redesigning existing ones – using circular design principles, meaning they are produced in a way that regenerates nature.
By applying the principles of circular design, participants will explore the potential for food to tackle biodiversity loss and address climate change.
The Challenge was launched on Wednesday evening (24 May) in London at the Barbican’s Conservatory with guests from across the food industry.
Participants will be supported throughout the Challenge, with the first designs expected towards the end of this year. Successful food product ideas will then be invited to go into production and made available in 2024.
The Big Food Redesign Challenge is generously supported with funds raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and awarded through the Dream Fund, with additional support provided by the Schmidt Family Foundation.
“We know the problems. The current food system is a key driver of biodiversity loss and accounts for a third of global greenhouse gases. By applying the principles of circular design to our food system, we can create food that regenerates nature and tackles some of our most pressing global issues.” – Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder and Chair of Trustees, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
“We’re delighted to be involved with the global Big Food Redesign Challenge and look forward to stocking our shelves with some of the innovative products that are being created with nature in mind. Our customers are thoughtful shoppers who trust us to offer responsibly sourced produce, and we can't wait to hear their thoughts on the new products developed for the Challenge.” – Ben Thomas, Senior Environment Manager, John Lewis Partnership
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Support for the Big Food Redesign Challenge
“Players of People’s Postcode Lottery raised an incredible £1.25 million for The Big Food Redesign Challenge, awarded as part of our annual Dream Fund. I am thrilled that this funding has been a catalyst for the project, allowing the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to deliver a project that will reshape food production with the needs of the environment at its core.” – Laura Chow, Head of Charities, People’s Postcode Lottery
"The world's industrial food system wasn't designed for resilience or sustainability – qualities we would require if we built it today. Instead, we've spent the last 100 years working for mechanical efficiency at low cost, often sacrificing quality and ignoring externalities. But the consequences of this approach are contributing hugely to climate destruction while leaving many people around the world without access to good food. If we don't dramatically change the way we source, produce, distribute and discard food, we face a future with ongoing plastic pollution, a warming atmosphere, and an Ocean losing both the oxygen we breathe and the marine life half the human population depends on for its primary protein. We're supporting the Big Food Redesign Challenge because it offers an inclusive pathway forward towards a healthy food system in a Circular Economy, designed for humans and the planet." - Wendy Schmidt, president and co-founder of the Schmidt Family Foundation
“The SMI Agribusiness Taskforce aims to accelerate regenerative farming into becoming the predominant agricultural system in the world. One of the actions the Taskforce identified companies can take to help achieve this is to design food products that support and enable regenerative farming crop rotations. The Big Food Redesign Challenge is an ideal opportunity to try this out in practice. We are delighted that some of our key members, Waitrose, HowGood and Sustainable Food Trust, are working closely with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to deliver this initiative and encourage all food businesses to demonstrate how circular design can effect positive change through participation in the challenge.” - Tor Harris, Lead, SMI Agribusiness Taskforce Action Committee
“We’re really excited to be supporting the Big Food Redesign Challenge as it provides a great opportunity for food companies to explore how to produce food products that can be a force for good for people and the planet – which is our ambition at Unilever.” - Dorothy Shaver, Global Food Sustainability Director, Unilever
"Google is committed to maximizing the reuse of finite resources across our operations, products and supply chains and enabling others to do the same. This goal includes our global Food program where we are building circularity into our operations wherever possible. But there's more work to be done, and none of us can solve these systemic issues alone. We support the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's Big Food Redesign Challenge and look forward to learning about the innovative solutions it inspires." - Michiel Bakker, VP of Workplace Programs, Google
“HowGood is thrilled to support the Big Food Redesign Challenge, powering a global shift in our food system's impact on nature and climate. Following the historic Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, the world is poised for big, bold coordinated efforts to evolve our food industry toward a more nature-positive system. By providing global food brands and suppliers with free access to HowGood’s sustainable innovation platform, we will harness the power of the competitive spirit to drive impact-first food product development and empower the food industry with radical transparency for a regenerative future.” – Alexander Gillett, CEO, HowGood
“OP2B is thrilled to be supporting this Challenge, working to strengthen private sector engagement to put nature at the heart of food product design. Diversified product formulations and plant-based diets are systemic building blocks to transform our food system—key levers to transform our agricultural model by OP2B Members since our inception in 2019. Creating markets for diversified crops is one of the key barriers to shift from a monoculture to a regenerative multiculture approach, that can contribute to soil health. Taking part in and learning from the Big Food Redesign Challenge will help companies reach their climate and biodiversity targets and build a food system that enables nature to thrive.” – Stefania Avanzini, Director, One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B)
With thanks to everyone involved in creating this challenge
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is an international charity developing and promoting 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. in order to tackle some of the biggest challenges of our time, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution. We work with our Network of private and public sector decision-makers, as well as academia, to build capacity, explore collaborative opportunities, and design and develop circular economy initiatives and solutions. Increasingly based on renewable energyEnergy derived from resources that are not depleted on timescales relevant to the economy, i.e. not geological timescales., a circular economy is driven by design to eliminate waste, circulate products and materials, and regenerate nature, to create resilience and prosperity for business, the environment, and people.
The People’s Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund The Big Food Redesign Challenge is generously supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund. The Fund aims to support projects that deliver systemic change within environment/conservation, social inequality, and pandemic recovery. Additional support has been provided by the Schmidt Family Foundation, which works to advance wiser use of energy and natural resources and support efforts worldwide that empower communities to build resilient systems for food, water, and human resources.
The Sustainable Food Trust The Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) is a registered charity that was founded by Patrick Holden in 2011 in response to the worsening human and environmental crises that are associated with most of today’s food and farming systems. Through harnessing the collective power of organisations, individuals, and communities, the SFT works to accelerate the transition to sustainable food systems, inspired by a philosophy of the interconnectedness of the health of soil, plants, animals and people. Its vision is for food and farming systems that nourish the health of people and planet and are equitable and accessible to all. Find out more about the SFT’s key projects and campaigns at sustainablefoodtrust.org/our-work
The Global Farm Metric The Global Farm Metric (GFM) is a common framework to understand, measure and monitor the state of farming systems globally. It enables farmers to understand the social, economic and environmental sustainability of their system in a way that is robust, holistic and independent of any particular farming philosophy. A common baseline of sustainability data empowers farmers to communicate farm-level outcomes across the food and farming sector. This supports more informed and transparent decision making, risk management and the avoidance of unintended consequences. Developed by the Sustainable Food Trust over the last six years, the GFM is supported by a coalition of over 100 partners, including farmers, advisors, researchers, educators, environmental groups, certifiers, food companies, financial services and government agencies.
Learn more about the Global Farm Metric at globalfarmmetric.org/about-the-global-farm-metric
The Schmidt Family Foundation Established in 2006 by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, the Schmidt Family Foundation works to restore a balanced relationship between people and planet. The foundation has two grant-making and investment programs--the 11th Hour Project , which partners with communities around the world in working for renewable energy, resilient food systems, healthy oceans and the protection of human rights, and Schmidt Marine Technology Partners , which supports scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs in developing technologies that restore ocean health.
We would also like to thank the following organisations for their support: Coca-Cola, Danone, Google, HowGood, Nestle, OP2B, SMI, Unilever, and Waitrose. Further information: www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org | @circulareconomy
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Big Food Redesign Challenge aims to inspire the food industry to...
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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