The need to transform food systems
Global food systems today are in need of transformation.
Billions of people are poorly nourished, millions of farmers live at subsistence level, enormous amounts of food go to
waste and poor farming practices are taking a toll on the environment. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) by 2030 will require food systems that are inclusive, sustainable, efficient, nutritious and healthy.
Achieving a true transformation of food systems requires a holistic approach – one engaging all stakeholders and
deploying a wide array of actions such as improved policy, increased investment, expanded infrastructure,
farmer capacity-building, consumer behaviour change and improved resource management. Technology
innovations, combined with other interventions, can play an important role in enabling and accelerating food systems transformation.
Technology innovation for food systems: emerging opportunities
Emerging technologies driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution are disrupting many industries, bringing rapid and large-scale change. These include:
— Digital building blocks such as big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning
— New physical systems such as autonomous vehicles, advanced robotics, additive manufacturing, advanced
materials and nanotechnologies
— Advances in science such as next-generation biotechnologies and genomics, and new energy
Until now, the food and agriculture sectors have been slow to harness the power of these technologies, attracting
significantly lower levels of investment and inspiring fewer technology start-ups than other sectors. Our research
revealed $14 billion in investments in 1,000 food systems-focused start-ups since 2010, while healthcare
attracted $145 billion in investment in 18,000 start-ups during the same time period.1