The future of food: less waste and personalized food

Science has clear human needs to enjoy good health. And one of its pillars is a balanced diet, which is around 2,500 calories a day and includes an adequate proportion of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, fish and meat. Scientific evidence also advocates a decrease in the consumption of sugar, salt and animal proteins. But is it possible to determine exactly what percentages of food each person should eat, is there a way to individualize the food to that extent?

"There is currently no way to know. There are still many things to know to determine what is or not to determine and to what extent each individual. But I don't think it's long before that happens." The words are from Shay Eliaz, the highest head of the Program The Future of Food at the consultancy Deloitte, who came to Malaga last week to participate in the second edition of the Smart Agrifood Summit. A meeting in which more than 100 international speakers were gathered to analyze the world of agriculture, production and consumption, as well as 300 startups with innovative projects related to new technologies.

Eliaz's involvement focused on analyzing the future of food and open fronts in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. Challenges that for this specialist go through technology, which "will have a lot to say in the coming years". Not only to better understand the human being himself; also to individualize the diet to the fullest. "It may seem like science fiction, but in the future specific foods will be produced for each person, helping to improve their health," Eliaz explained during his intervention at Smart Agrifood Summit.

Feeding as a health base

As the future comes, this expert advocates a good diet. "The best medicine is good food," he said in his intervention, stressing that it is what helps prevent disease. This allows not only a healthier society, but also a less need for governments not to have to allocate "huge amounts of money" to public health systems. Eliaz therefore emphasized that in growing countries such as China or Mexico, government officials are beginning to be among their main objectives that reducing the consumption of sugar or meat among their populations.

In fact, studies developed by Deloitte show how developing countries begin to have the same levels as those developed in diseases linked to what they eat: type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart attacks or strokes, among others. "Food is now the number one cause of people's ill health," insisted the expert, who believes it is the children's population to focus on "because good or bad food will mark them for life."

Growing countries such as China and Mexico are beginning to be among the main goals that reducing the consumption of sugar or meat among their populations

Even with an eye on the future, Eliaz stressed that the food challenge of the present is to eradicate hunger on the planet. An objective that is complicated by aspects such as climate change or armed conflict, but also by population growth. Today we are 7.7 billion human beings living on the planet, but by 2050 it will be 9,700 and 2,100 million will be reached by 2,100 million, according to united nations (UN) estimates. In recent decades, governments, foundations, and non-governmental organizations have come a long way that has had lights and shadows. While these are the ones that weigh the most: there are still more than 800 million people who go to bed without having ingested the minimum calories for their daily activity. At the opposite pole, another 2 billion people are obese. "It's the great contradiction of this world," said Shay Eliaz.

For the specialist, one of the keys to feeding the entire planet is the decrease in the percentage of food that is wasted. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), one third of the world's food never reaches the consumer. "It's like we're setting up a factory and, from the beginning, we knew that one in three objects we create goes straight to the trash," explains Eliaz, who points out that the two main causes of that food loss are the poor infrastructure and the current way consumption – "we just want perfect, shiny products." "If we could down just a few percentage points, there would be food for everyone without having to produce more," the expert concluded.

Consumer power

Today, consumers have more power than ever before. "They are the ones who have the power to decide what we will eat in the future," Shay Eliaz said at the Smart Agrifood Summit roundtable, where he participated with representatives from various food sectors. This idea was endorsed by Felipe Medina, head of the Spanish Association of Distributors, Self-Service and Supermarkets (ASEDAS), who stressed that the decisions made by each person in their purchase are important. "Currently there is one million food and consumption products. In a large supermarket can fit between 10,000 and 12,000. And they'll always be the ones consumers want," Medina said. "The industry always wants to meet its demands," added the head of the Halal Institute's certification department, Muhammad Escudero, who spoke that, although there are different consumer profiles, a good part is increasingly concerned about aspects such as quality, provenance or sustainability. "We are on the right track, but I think we are not yet aware of what food production can harm the planet," concluded Shay Eliaz, that society is still in time to change the way we generate food without destroying the environment.