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Webinar: Food Structures for a Sustainable World

16 May @ 8:00 am - 9:00 am

This seminar will overview some of the environmental and sustainability challenges the industry is now facing and present some practical steps, from an engineering perspective, as to how the industry can embrace future change, a circular economy and adapt to implementing better ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) goals.

As part of the global food system, food engineering has a particular responsibility to society. Food and its production matter for every single individual on this planet – it always has! While the global food industry has had many successes over the past 50 years in terms of scalability and offering abundant food supply to many parts of the world, it has not happened without consequence and controversy.

The end of the 20th century and the global realisation that nature’s resources are finite and cannot absorb the world’s waste introduced two new dimensions – other than growth and profitability – to the food industry: environmental and sustainability concerns. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation puts a number on it; for every dollar spent on food, society now pays two dollars in health, environmental, and economic costs. (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2019). The FAO calculates the global price of hidden health and environmental costs of our present agri-food systems to be at least $10 trillion annually.

As such, with future population and urbanisation growth, as well as more significant societal costs, there is no doubt that our current food system needs to change. A fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of the entire food chain and its practices is required. By linking a very simple definition of engineering as being “to make things or to make things better” with the discipline of food engineering, perhaps the point has been lost by more recent numbers-orientated management that a food engineer’s key role has always been, as proven over past millennia, to consistently re-engineer food systems to achieve beneficial change.

Seamus Higgins MBA (PM), AF IChemE, FHEA, Associate Professor Food Processing Engineering, University of Nottingham

Seamus is an associate Fellow of IChemE and a Fellow of the Higher Education Authority UK. He is also an editorial board member of the International Journal for Food Process Engineering. Seamus began his career in the food industry as an electrical engineer and has worked with several leading international food companies, including Nestle and Premier Foods.


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