The rising costs of food in the U.S., and around the globe, bring reverberating impacts throughout the ag and food system. Food prices at grocery store shelves rose 9.4 percent between April 2021 and April 20221 . And that number becomes even more staggering  when we look at pre-pandemic levels. The FAO Food Price Index increased by 55.2 percent between May 2020 and February 2022.

The FAO Food Price Index is at its highest level since the series started in 1990.

The driver for these increases is well noted over the past several months with compounding effects of rising input costs (fuel, feed, fertilizer on the farms), supply chain challenges, animal health issues, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and many other factors.

Globally, the rise in food costs is impacting low-income countries and families the most. The FAO Food Price Index reached its highest level since the series started in 1990. The continual upward movement of food prices is creating a new wave of food insecurity and hunger issues which will put pressure on achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals aimed at ending world hunger by 2030. The culmination of so many factors leading to today’s high prices is, according to recent Deloitte Insights, likely to end up reversing years of progress in reducing global hunger. They note the upheaval in global food markets since 2020 serves as a warning that the world must be better prepared for global disruptions in the future, such as climate change.

So what can be done to balance the rising cost of food and achieve our goal to eliminate hunger?

At C.O.nxt, we work with companies to help create and evolve their sustainability platforms. Many of our partners use the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a foundation, particularly centering on hunger, because the food and ag business can have a direct impact in this area. But in the face of inflating food costs, can these goals still be met? Here are a few ways individuals and companies can stay on the path toward reducing hunger, even in these unprecedented times.

The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals aims to end world hunger by 2030.

Purposeful partnerships:

Team up with organizations that share in your compassion. Local food banks always need support, while cities are full of unique organizations and opportunities. Recently, food and beverage companies across the country have focused on raising money for Ukraine relief. The key is to find an organization or cause that shares values core to your company.

Ukraine Relief

Innovation:

While it may appear many of the factors leading to the current food price situation are unavoidable, these current challenges present an opening for innovation and creativity in how we produce our food—from feed ingredients to plant genetics that help crops withstand varying climate conditions.

Tia Lupita Foods is always on the lookout for innovative, sustainable ingredients, so they teamed up with Renewal Mill to use upcycled grain-free flour for their tortillas. Creativity like this can be applied to how we transport, preserve and distribute our food to alleviate pressure of food sourcing around the world.

cactus tortilla

Farmer support:

From ongoing discussions on the Farm Bill and other policy activity, to helping provide education and resources to new or small farmers, ensuring farmers have the resources they need to produce healthy and affordable food is critical to feeding all populations. In many areas it is more than the financial support. The need for education through international farmer-led initiatives is critical to helping people grow and provide their own food sources.

PepsiCo has made efforts on this path, setting an ambitious plan for regenerative agriculture that they hope will play a role in securing the future of farming.

Closer to home:

Food waste and food insecurity go hand-in-hand. Helping to eliminate food waste at all levels can provide a more stable food supply around the world. The FAO estimates that the equivalent of 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted every year, causing $1 trillion in economic costs, around $700 billion in environmental costs and $900 billion in social costs (US dollars). While there are many factors contributing to this situation, it is an issue that needs to be taken into consideration when looking to combat food insecurity.

1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted every year.

AgroFresh, an agricultural technology company, has made a mission of preventing food loss and waste. A third-part impact study shows AgroFresh has saved 259 thousand metric tons of apples from a landfill and 2.5 million metric tons of water. As part of their global commitment, they recently participated in Champions 12.3 Conference on Reducing Food Loss and Waste: A Vital Solution to the Food Crisis.

Agrofresh

For more information on how to prepare an impactful, relevant and action-based CSR for your company reach out to Marcy Tessmann.

C.O.nxt Insights

Our team of subject matter experts focuses on food and agriculture—farm field to processing to entrée on a plate. We can help you build a new brand, protect an old one or target customers to foster sales. Let’s talk when the time is right to handle your next strategic marketing and communications challenge: Marcy Tessmann, marcy@co-nxt.com.