The global food landscape is a dynamic one, and 2023 has had its share of both challenges and progress.
From increased consumer awareness to cutting-edge technology and pivotal government actions, here are the most noteworthy events in food and sustainability that have defined this year.
1. Poisoned: a Netflix documentary
In August 2023, Netflix launched Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food, a documentary that delves into the tragic consequences of food-borne illnesses and contaminants in the food we eat.
The documentary manages to shine a light on the unseen dangers in food products that we all consume every day, and has opened a long-awaited conversation around global food safety.
2. Italy bans lab-grown meat
In a landmark decision in November 2023, the Italian Parliament voted in favor of banning the production, sale and import of cultivated meat and animal feed – an effort to protect the farming industry and preserve long standing culinary traditions.
The decision made Italy the first country to outspokenly act against lab-grown meat products and was met with both support and opposition.
3. France spends $200 million to destroy excess wine
France made headlines in August of 2023 by spending $200 million to destroy excess wine.
Overproduction, higher costs of living, and a falling consumer demand for wine led the French authorities to take aggressive measures to avoid a wine price collapse.
EU data shows that wine consumption has fallen by 7% to 34% during the first half of 2023 across the main European wine producers, while wine production in the same countries has increased by 4%.
4. India imposes a partial blockade on rice exports
In July 2023, India imposed a partial blockade on rice sales. Torrential rains and floods devastated many of the country’s rice crops, leading to a 12% surge in food prices.
Rice is a staple food for over 3.5 billion people in Asia, Latin America, and parts of Africa, and 40% of the world’s rice exports come from India.
India’s decision, which came on top of the Ukraine grains and cereals shipping restrictions, may put some of the world’s most vulnerable people at risk.
5. COP28 takeaways
Closing in December 2023, COP28 was a critical moment marking the world’s commitment for global climate action and sustainability
In addition to fossil fuel pledges, the conference also put a spotlight on food, with agreements to boost the resilience of food systems and reduce agricultural greenhouse emissions.
6. Cooking with computers: the vision of digital gastronomy
Without a doubt, generative AI held the headlines throughout 2023, reflecting a broader shift where science and technology mix more and more with every area of our lives.
Technology can open new opportunities for the food industry, with digital gastronomy emerging as a new trend at the intersection of technology and food. With innovative uses such as 3D printed dishes and AI-designed meals, technology is helping pave the way to more personalized eating experiences.
7. EU Regulation on deforestation-free products
In a move to combat global deforestation, the European Union introduced new regulation targeting the commercialization of products linked to deforestation.
Such products include soy, beef, palm oil, and various timber products. The new EU regulation requires traders to demonstrate their products are not sourced from deforested lands.
Effective as of June 2023 the new regulation gives companies 18 months to align to the new standards.
8. France pushes for more factory, not organic farming
Another significant move was made by the French government this year, urging farmers to increase the production of affordable, non-organic meat due to a decline in demand for organic products.
This renewed focus on affordability marks a shift from Frances’s previous stance against intensive farming. But with food inflation at 11%, consumers are increasingly opting for cheaper meat, which impacts the organic food market.
9. Cocoa prices hit 12-year high
Wildfires, storms, and temperatures highs continued to drive food prices up in 2023.
Cocoa prices hit a 12-year high during the summer of 2023 due to extreme wet weather affecting cocoa harvests in West Africa, which accounts for over 80% of the total global cocoa production.
The rise in prices for cocoa pose challenges to both large producers but also to the economies of producing countries.
10. A taste of Nigerian cuisine
In a search for more diverse experiences, consumers and chefs alike began to appreciate the diversity of Nigerian cuisine in 2023.
Nigerian flavors are also mingling with other cuisines, such as Mexican food, in new mouth-watering dishes.
11. Olive oil production reaches record low
The 2022 -2023 olive oil production in the European Union is expected to hit a record low at 1.4 million tons, meaning a 39% decrease from the previous year, primarily due to extreme heat and drought in Spain.
This shortage, coupled with high input costs, has led to increased producer prices, raising consumer and export prices. As a result, EU consumption and exports of olive oil are expected to decline according to this EU report.
12. Consumers push for more sustainability
In 2023, the climate protection movement shifted to proactive environmental regeneration through food choices.
A trend that raises the bar to demanding carbon-reducing agriculture, enhanced animal welfare, and equitable labor practices in food production.
It marks a broader commitment from companies, governments, and consumers to making a more tangible positive impact on the planet.
As 2023 concludes, we’ve seen significant transformations in consumer trends, legislation, and technology to the adoption of sustainable practices in the way we produce and consume our food.
We look forward to seeing these lessons and successes be carried out into the next year and beyond. From Enismaro, we wish you a sustainable 2024!