It is by now a well-known fact that there is a striking paradox within our global food system: so many still go hungry, while so many others face staggering rates of overweight and obesity.
Nowhere is this paradox more evident than in Asia, where a recent joint report from UNICEF, WHO and ASEAN(1) found that within the Southeast Asian region:
Further research confirms this, including the one conducted by the Economist with Barilla Foundation. Particularly, the world’s two biggest populations, China and India, rank poorly across measures of sustainability of food loss and waste, sustainable agriculture and nutrition(2).
Globally, it has become clear that if the food system is to achieve the United Nations’ ambitious sustainable development goals by 2030, we must not overlook the fact that our decisions as brands and as consumers have a direct impact on the environment and on the ability of a population to achieve its maximum potential.
As a fourth-generation owner of Italy’s Barilla Group, a world leader in pasta and active player in the food system, I believe it is critical that industry, retailers, governments, academia, NGOs and individuals intensify our search for solutions to feeding a global population expected to reach 9.3 billion by 2050(3), in a sustainable way for our Planet.
Our company – and my family – has always believed that we can only achieve this goal if we approach it “insieme” – Italian for together. Therefore, for the tenth year, we will convene experts in food system issues, as well as representatives from food enterprises like ours at an annual summit that we call Insieme Day.
In partnership with The Consumer Goods Forum, this year’s meeting will be held in Singapore for the first time, and will focus on global food issues impacting Asia, Australia and Africa region specifically. Participants from industry, international organizations and more will gather to work towards addressing immediate needs like transparency and safety within our global supply chain, but also proactively identifying ways to improve the efficiency of our processes, protect both our natural resources and the wellbeing of local communities, and enhance the understanding and intake of nutrition of our people, to provide a concrete action plan and solution as a team, with Barilla driving it forward with all the participants.
What specifically can we do insieme? Here are some initiatives which Barilla undertook, inspired and informed by Insieme Days past, and which were shared, in part or in full, by other players in the food systems in which we operate:
During Insieme Day, to be held on June 11 at the Asian Civilizations Museum, we will be soliciting input and ideas that can ignite real action.
Each one of us can start making an impact – even small changes can help, like making an effort to eat mostly healthy foods at the bottom of the food pyramid that have a low ecological footprint like grains, vegetables, and fruits.
As caretakers for the future, all of us – individuals, food and other companies, governments and NGOs – must follow the mantra of my father, Pietro Barilla, who counseled to “give people food you would give to your own children” and that “everything is done for the future – let’s forge ahead with courage!”
(1) Regional Report on Nutrition Security in ASEAN. https://www.unicef.org/eapro/Regional_Report_on_Nutrition_Security_in_ASEAN_%28Volume_2%29.pdf
(2) Food Sustainability Index: http://foodsustainability.eiu.com/country-ranking/
(3) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. http://www.fao.org/sustainability/background/en/
(4) Guardatustesso https://www.barilla.com/it-it/guarda-tu-stesso
Chairman of the Barilla Group, and
the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) Foundation