Food processing and value generation align with nutrition and current environmental planetary boundaries

Samuel B.Perez-Vega
Sustainable Production and Consumption

There are current initiatives to make food processing sustainable; however, there is limited understanding of how these improvements influence planetary boundaries recently established by the scientific community. Moreover, there is a lack of analysis for detecting leverage points inside the food processing sector to reduce environmental pressures directly affecting planetary boundaries while increasing value and keeping nutrition. This review explores how food processing can aid food systems operating inside the well-known, established planetary boundaries framework.

The analysis centers on the importance of considering food processing as a part of a food system (not an isolated silo) where nutrition and sustainable development are necessary. Typical improvements in the food processing sector are evaluated against their effect on planetary boundaries and nutrition. As a result, a holistic analysis identifies how the food processing sector can have a direct/indirect effect on reducing environmental pressures and increasing nutrition. Awareness of food matrices' environmental impact on agricultural stages is critical for developing a sustainable strategy. The design and adoption of new foods from low-impact food matrices, implementing non-conventional processing, developing highly nutritional food fractions, and improving packaging with education and information were found as leverage points inside food processing. One characteristic of these strategies is that they influence other sectors of the food system, aiding in reducing environmental pressures according to the planetary boundaries, increasing nutrition, and generating value.


This resource has been peer reviewed