A Rapidly Growing Green Shift in the Food Industry in the Global—Volume 1: Introduction

TNC Inc.
Yoshio Koiwai

Based on the motto “Clues and Markets Can Be Found Overseas,” my activities are centered on Lifestyle Researcher, a global network of more than 600 Japanese women who have lived long-term in 100 cities in 70 countries worldwide, and work locally in various fields such as journalism and research. I hope to have an opportunity to tell you later why we focus on Japanese and why we specialize in women. I have been working in overseas businesses for nearly 20 years using this unique framework, and my utmost priorities have been the local consumer perspective and local living environment and conditions. Based on the title “A Green Shift in the Food Industry,” in this first article I will introduce several trends I have discovered in overseas countries by hearing from local people, feeling local signs and trends, and sensing changes in society and values. I would also like to examine my hypothesis on how this global green shift in the food industry can be a major driving force for Japanese washoku culture, gastronomy, and overseas strategies to attract inbound tourism. To help me with my work, I enlisted the help of Lifestyle Researchers from seven different countries: the UK, France, Denmark, the US, Mexico, South Africa, and Singapore.

Here I will outline what sort of unique guidelines and visions that governments and public organizations in each country have for promoting this green shift. One major movement is the Green Industrial Revolution announced by the UK government in autumn of 2021. The Industrial Revolution began in the UK in the 19th century and sought to create the convenient and efficient society we live in today. The idea behind the Green Industrial Revolution is to reset the current carbon-based society and achieve a green shift to a zero-carbon society. In line with the above announcement of the Green Industrial Revolution, the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs examined a set of guidelines to promote zero carbonization while maintaining food security. As a result, the department launched the Farming Innovation Programme to introduce technologies to promote low-carbon agriculture. At COP26 in Scotland in 2021, the UK Food and Drink Federation —made up of more than 1,000 food-related companies—announced a statement to make the domestic food industry a zero-carbon society. The food served at COP26 was made with local ingredients and beverages were provided in recyclable cups. In these and other ways, concrete actions are becoming more prominent. The year 2021, when the country that started the Industrial Revolution announced its green shift, can be seen as the symbolic start of a major turning point.

Elsewhere, Singapore has announced its intention to raise its self-sufficiency rate to 30% by 2030 through its 30-by-30 Plan. The goals are clear and easy-to-understand, the plan has gained support from the people of Singapore. Singapore is a small country with only around 1% of its land suitable for agriculture. As such, the current self-sufficiency rate is approximately only 10%, and the majority of food ingredients and products are imported. The aim is to increase this to 30% through the use of agri-tech (hydroponics, etc.) and food tech (cell culture, etc.). In addition to ensuring a stable supply of food, the green shift initiative contributes to the reduction of GHG emissions associated with transportation.

In Mexico, meanwhile, the Sin Maíz no Hay País (Without Corn, There Is No Country) campaign was launched from September 2021 as part of its self-sufficiency program. The campaign aims to ensure the survival of native corn varieties. Genetically modified corn is threatening the survival of 60 native corn varieties, and so not only does this campaign help to protect the rights of local farmers, but it can also promote food diversity and protect one of Mexico’s traditional food cultures. In this way, activities to reevaluate the value of food, which can be said to be the identity of a country, without relying on imports, can also be considered to be part of this green shift.

While the initiatives and the degree of challenges varies in each country, the green shift in the food industry is something that is becoming apparent globally. From the next article onwards, I plan to introduce a wide range of symbolic green shift initiatives and trends from around the world, including regenerative agriculture in the US, urban farming using bus stops in Singapore, salt in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa, Veganuary in the UK, and a return to plant-based foods that are not too artificial in France. I will continue to provide you with local information provided by our network of Lifestyle Researchers.

TNC Inc. Representative
Yoshio Koiwai