Home Tetra Laval Annual report Tetra Pak Sustainable Food Systems

Sustainable Food Systems

Helping build more resilient and sustainable food systems

Everyone, everywhere deserves access to safe, nutritious food; but today, millions of people live without it. Too much food is lost or wasted, and all too often, food is grown, produced, processed, packaged, distributed and consumed in unsustainable ways. At Tetra Pak, we are committed to play our part in moving the world’s food systems forward. With our expertise, technology and partnerships, we believe we can make a difference. After all, it is core to our purpose as we commit to making food safe and available, everywhere; and we promise to protect what’s good: protecting food, people and the planet.

As a UN Global Compact advocate and contri­butor to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Tetra Pak is committed to the targets of the UN Food Systems Summit, and is actively engaged in the UN Food Systems Summit process both at a global and national level.

“Global food systems have significantly contributed to human development in recent decades, but COVID-19 has highlighted the fragility of our food systems and the need for urgent transformation, if we are to meet the SDGs and the objectives of the Paris Agreement,” says Lars Holmquist, Executive Vice President for Sustainability & Communications at Tetra Pak.

There are many challenges for today’s global food systems – from malnutrition, a growing global population and climate change, to negative environmental impact and a lack of infrastructure. However, well-designed food processing technologies and packaging solutions can strengthen food supply chains and build resilience in food systems to address these challenges.

“Together with our customers, a key area where we can make a positive contribution is in the reduction of food loss and waste. For instance, some of our new generation best-­practice lines can reduce food waste during production by up to 50 per cent, while significantly lowering energy consumption, water usage and emissions,” explains Holmquist.

Six opportunities to drive change

“At Tetra Pak, we have tentatively identified six impact opportunities where we believe we can help drive systemic change and support the Food Systems Summit objectives. These areas build on our long-standing global expertise, and will need further research, critical discussion, and active collaboration,” says Holmquist.

Food innovation for healthy diets

Global diets need to converge towards locally appropriate versions of a ‘human and planetary health diet’ that improves health outcomes and reduces the environmental impact of food. In this context, food processing technologies and packaging solutions can enable consumers to access a broader range of healthy products.

School Feeding Programmes

To enable the expansion and secure sustainability of School Feeding Programmes, which today cover 388 million children globally9), there are four challenges that need to be overcome:

  • Sustainable funding mechanisms
  • Education about the nutritional benefits of the food provided, such as dairy
  • Need for local production and sourcing of safe, nutritious, high-quality foods
  • Development of solid data collection and impact evaluation mechanisms

The food processing and packaging industry can help overcome these challenges and support the scaling-up of School Feeding Programmes, improving nutrition and school attendance among kids, while creating a market for local food products.

Minimised food loss and waste

World hunger is on the rise and yet, an estimated one third10) of all food produced globally is lost or goes to waste. Reducing food loss and waste would mean greater food availability, which would help combat hunger as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is where food processing and packaging solutions can contribute greatly by (a) Avoiding food loss through strengthened food supply chains and (b) Reducing food waste through advanced processing technologies and packaging solutions, particularly for perishable food.

Sustainable dairy production

Smallholder dairy farmers often do not have the knowledge or the capacity to transition to more sustainable practices. Systematically providing them with the necessary expertise and technology while connecting them to the organised collection infrastructure can significantly improve milk output as well as their livelihoods. As an example, our Dairy Hub model aims to secure a long-term supply of locally produced, quality milk, without raising the costs of collection, especially in emerging economies. It does so by linking smallholder farmers to a dairy processor, with Tetra Pak offering the technology and ‘hands-on’ practical knowledge and training.

Sustainable food packaging solutions

Food packaging plays a critical role in feeding the world, but it must do so with a reduced impact on our planet. At Tetra Pak, our aim is to deliver the world’s most sustainable food package – made solely from responsibly sourced renewable or recycled materials, that is fully recyclable and carbon neutral. In this context, we are investing heavily in the research and development of carton packages that are made with a simplified material structure and increased paper-based content. We recognise that the best way to accelerate innovation is through game changing collaborations, which is why we are partnering not only with industry stakeholders but also research bodies, academia and tech start-ups.

Supply chain transparency and traceability

Driving greater transparency and traceability in the supply chain can enable better decision making and boost food safety and sustainability. To that end we are investigating how digital technologies, such as, analytics and Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, advanced robotics, and digital platforms can enable a sustainable and circular economy and create closed loop recycling systems while enhancing food access and safety.

“Working together with farmers, producers, consumers, governments and other stakeholders, we are refining our thinking, framing our ambitions and creating a roadmap in support of building resilient food systems to achieve the SDGs,” concludes Holmquist.

New whole bean food processing solution minimises food waste

Tetra Pak has supported the Taiwanese food and drink producer I-Mei to develop a whole bean food processing solution to minimise food waste. I-Mei has worked to reduce food waste by turning okara – the insoluble pulp that remains after pureed soybeans has been filtered in the production of soy milk and tofu – into a high value ingredient. Fibre-rich okara is used in traditional cuisine in Japan, Korea and China, but is often discarded, which creates a significant disposal challenge for industry players including I-Mei. Tetra Pak has helped I-Mei to develop a processing solution that can capture and incorporate okara into their soy milk drinks, to create a premium, high-fibre product with no added sugar, excellent flavour, and a desirable smooth mouthfeel. Packaged in Tetra Top® Nallo 330 ml and Tetra Rex® 1L packages, wholesome soy milk is a new concept that I-Mei is now raising consumer awareness on.

Tetra Pak helps convert surplus farm produce into a healthy vegetable product

Tetra Pak has helped Matriark Foods in the US to develop a new, healthy, low-sodium vegetable product made from farm waste and surplus produce. The product is distributed to schools, hospitals, food banks and other food service channels. As it is based on vegetable farm surplus and fresh-cut remnants that would otherwise be wasted and sent to landfill, the product also contributes towards a more sustainable food system and reduces climate impact. Matriark Foods worked with River Run Foods, a co-packer that recently began filling Tetra Pak cartons, to develop the recipe. The Tetra Pak Product Development Centre in Lund, Sweden, has helped River Run to develop the necessary processes. Tetra Pak also supported Matriark Foods’ package design to clearly communicate the brand’s mission, including Tetra Pak and FSC™ logos, to support its sustainability profile.

Woman in lab, food safety