Concordia is a nonprofit organization that enables public-private partnerships to create a more prosperous and sustainable future. As equal parts convener, campaigner, and idea incubator, Concordia is creating a new model for how a nonpartisan, nonprofit can have a global impact. The Concordia team recently connected with FoodFutureCo's 2017 cohort companies and shared the learnings from these conversations on their blog.
The local food movement has deep roots in urban centers, but the juxtaposition of urbanites’ locavore enthusiasm with the shortage of arable land in cities raises the question: how local is local enough? In terms of geography, there is no consensus or regulation around what “local food” should be. Depending on your definition (or marketing strategy), the term could refer to anything from food produced in your own backyard to food produced 100 miles away or simply within the state.
Community gardens and urban farming are obvious—if partial—answers to this paradox. And while urban farming is nothing new, there’s no denying that in recent years, rooftops gardens, vertical farms, and the like have become increasingly seductive to enterprising young farmers. Increasingly, consumers, the media, and even investors are climbing on board with new urban farming initiatives, as 21st century innovation pushes the limits of how and where food is grown.
With the growth of these aggregator models, we are reaching a tipping point. Now that there are more than 400 food hubs around the country, we have the beginnings of the physical infrastructure needed to support a new, alternative supply chain that sources exclusively from regional, sustainable producers with technology-enabled transparency every step of the way – once again putting a face and a voice to our food. As food ports scale, the next generation is emerging: food ports. These aggregate the smaller regional hubs and include processing, production, and distribution functions so that good, small, and mid-scale food can finally make its way into the institutional and large wholesale supply chains.
In the last two years, we’ve witnessed celebrity chefs transform vegetable trimmings, damaged apples, and otherwise wasted food into ‘Dumpster Dive Vegetable Salad’ and other artful dishes for New York City diners. Denmark opened its first food surplus supermarket selling expired food with Princess Marie of Denmark in attendance. We may even soon be saying goodbye to the confusing “sell by” date labels that have caused consumers to throw out perfectly good and nutritious food.
Fighting food waste may be the trend du jour, but with almost 1 billion people malnourished, another 1 billion going hungry every year, and a third of all food produced globally (1.3 billion tons of food) going unused, we are still facing a serious food waste crisis.
Marketing guru, entrepreneur, and investor Stewart Owen has worked with Fortune 100 giants and startups alike. He shared insights from his vast experience working across industries as well as with sustainable, local, and mission-driven food brands with the founders of FoodFutureCo’s cohort companies, and now we want to share his wisdom with you. Here are Stewart’s ten time-tested ways to give your new business the best shot at success.
From drones to PrecisionAg, America’s amber waves of grain have never been so decked out in 21st century tech. Yet for the past half century, the story of technological innovation in agriculture has progressed lockstep with the consolidation of the industry, loss of biodiversity, and depletion of soil nutrients and natural resources.
Our oceans are straining under the extraordinary pressure of global demand. Humans eat seafood, and so do our livestock. Even our seafood eats seafood. It’s unsurprising then that ninety percent of our marine fisheries are fully fished or overfished. The repercussions of our insatiable hunger for seafood are both environmental and economic. The industry now loses more than $80 billion annually due to overfishing and decreasing fish stocks.
Creating sustainable alternatives is not only an environmental imperative but also a remarkable economic opportunity. The expansive, lumbering seafood industry is calling for mission-minded entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors to stem the tide of ecological destruction.
Too often “good food” is written off as the pet project of the elite: access to healthy, sustainable food is a luxury. How wrong this is. Good food cannot be viewed as a “privilege.” It must be recognized as an inalienable right—one that we must fight for as a community, for the community. The effects of unsustainable, unhealthy food radiate out to every inequity facing humankind. Our food culture and agricultural system are central causes of climate change, the health crisis, the energy crisis, poverty, war, the list goes on.
“Big Food” has spent decades building its ecosystem. Now thoughtful, local, sustainable food must do the same. Each niche within this new ecosystem constitutes a business opportunity, and increasingly entrepreneurs are realizing this. Exciting developments are emerging in a variety of sectors such as: FoodTech (both in the lab and in the digital world), Sustainable Agriculture, Food Waste, Vertical/Indoor Farming, Aquaculture, Food Access...and many many more.