Future Food Systems research group
The Future Food Systems research group is working on intervention strategies and new business models that accelerate the transition to sustainable food systems. In this way, we contribute to the impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, nationally and internationally.
About the research group
The aim of the Future Food Systems research group is to accelerate the transition to sustainable food systems. Making the system more sustainable is not sufficient: a transition is needed in the way we produce, value and consume food. The research group works on intervention strategies as well as new business models.
Food is an important part of our culture and well-being, but food is also related to global sustainability challenges needing urgent attention:
- globally, there are growing concerns about human health due to the increase in food-related diseases alongside persistent food insecurity
- The boundaries the planet can cope with in terms of climate change, biodiversity, freshwater use and nitrogen and phosphate cycles are being exceeded
- Food waste
- Social injustice concerning wages and working conditions in food chains (e.g. FAO, 2019; IPCC, 2019)
It was recently estimated that the social health, economic and environmental costs of the global food system are $12 trillion; 20% more than the market value of all food systems (Pharo et al, 2019). This alone clearly indicates that making the current food system more sustainable is not enough. Achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals requires a complete rethink about the way food is produced, valued and consumed.
Lines of research
The Future Food Systems research group is based on three related pillars:
- Practical research into the dynamics in current and future food systems at different scales
- Participatory exploratory studies of a future with sustainable food systems
- Exploring transition processes leading to system-based intervention strategies and new business models that can accelerate these processes
Partnerships & social roles
The Food Transition Coalition (Transitiecoalitie Voedsel) is a permanent partner. This network organisation has more than 200 members from the business community, knowledge institutions, social organisations and local, provincial and national government authorities. The mission is to ensure a transition to a sustainable food system; healthy people on a healthy planet.
Professor Frederike Praasterink is secretary of a National Science Agenda (NWA) Consortium called 'Transition to a sustainable food system’ (Transitie naar een duurzaam voedselsysteem), which involves more than 35 partners from all kinds of universities and parties in the field. This programme was launched in March 2021, and will run until 2025.
She also holds a number of social roles:
- Guest lecturer at Nyenrode Business University, lecture series Sustainability for the food & agribusiness; and Change Management.
- Council member (agri-food) of the Provincial Council for the Living Environment in North Brabant
- Member of the Social Advisory Council of the Dutch Forestry Commission in North Brabant
Professor P.J. Beers is heading the research programme 'Space for the Agricultural and Food Transition’ (Ruimte voor landbouw- en voedseltransitie). In this partnership, he is collaborating with Achmea, Flynth accountants, ZLTO, LTO-Noord, NAJK, Natuur- en Milieufederatie Noord-Holland, Rabobank, the Province of Zuid Holland, and the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. He is also heading the Knowledge Team of the South Holland Food Families (Kennisteam van de Zuid-Hollandse Voedselfamilies), a collaboration between HAS University of Applied Sciences, DRIFT (Dutch Research Institute for Transitions), Inholland, and Wageningen Economic Research.
Sustainable Development Goals
Related research groups
The Precision Livestock Farming research group wants to facilitate smart farming and the use data for more precise operational management. The research group also looks to other industries for inspiration.
The Healthy Farming research group will conduct research into the problems caused by animal husbandry and stirs up the dialogue between market, researcher and consumer. The aim is taking new steps towards the animal husbandry of the future.
The Protein Transition in Food research group wants to contribute to the protein transition in the Netherlands and beyond. The focus is on the application of plant-based proteins like legumes, and the exploration of alternative proteins such as cellular agriculture and insects.