I didn’t think that there would be a lot of juicy updates so early in 2023, but boy was I wrong.
As a former Blue Badge of the World Economic Forum, January always holds a special place in my heart (read: anxiety-induced heart palpitations) as world leaders, CEOs and celebrities headed to the Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. As expected, many announcements and headlines made the news, but the one that caught my eye was the launch of the Giving to Amplify Earth Action initiative (GAEA), led by the Forum to leverage and unlock $3 trillion per year in philanthropic funding to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss in 16 countries across the globe. I’ve never seen a philanthropy commitment this large dedicated just to the environment. My hope is that this also boosts food systems transformation as a climate solution and draws these two worlds closer together.
Stateside, Frank Yannis resigned as Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Food Policy and Response for the FDA. I had the honor of interacting with Frank when he was the Head of Food Safety for Walmart while I was working on a date labeling project at ReFED. Brilliant and a thoughtful human. He publicly shared his resignation letter, which included several criticisms of how the FDA operates and, in particular, how its decentralized framework led to the paralyzing infant formula shortage last year. This will no doubt have a ripple effect on how the FDA modernizes its operations to address a rapidly changing food system. In almost a choreographed move, the FDA is already heeding this advice with the announcement of a new “Human Foods Program that will bring together under one empowered deputy commissioner nearly all of its major food components that currently are scattered across multiple divisions to better protect and promote and safe US food supply.” To my food policy experts: What do you make of all of this? And what are the implications? I need to know!
The alternative protein industry got an unnecessary knock from Businessweek that set off a firestorm of backlash for its fear-mongering journalism. My favorite was from the unapologetic vegan activist and author Jennifer Stojkavic.
Unilever announced that Hein Schumacher will replace Alan Jope as CEO. Schumacher is currently a dairy and nutrition executive, so this gives me hope that the food and refreshments business within Unilever will be spared and nurtured — and it doesn’t have to outcompete the personal care brands that make up the majority of Unilever’s business.
On a very personal note, I am beaming with pride to announce that my incredible, silky-smooth, baritone-voiced husband, Ray Donovan, has launched “Stack’n’Days,” a sobriety podcast dedicated to elevating the voices and stories of People of Color in their pursuit of an alcohol-free lifestyle. Listen to the trailer and subscribe on Apple Music, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts. I got to listen in on the first few episodes and all I can say is… get the tissues ready. It’s beautiful and inspiring.
Let me know how you are and what you’re working on. I’ll be excited to see many of you on the conference circuit soon.
What I’m Reading
Legislative Flurry In December 2022 – Biocycle
This article highlights four state and federal legislation relevant to organics recycling that were signed into law at the end of last year.
North American Leaders Make Historic Commitment to Food Waste Reduction – ReFED
At the North American Leaders Summit, President Biden, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada made a commitment to reduce food waste, one of only six climate-focused commitments addressed.
Unilever drives market share up 10pp by pruning innovation pipeline, product portfolio to do more with less – FoodNavigator
Unilever is invested in growth by strategically simplifying its innovation pipeline, pruning its portfolio to focus on higher growth spaces and magnifying the business benefits of its purpose-driven initiatives
Kraft Heinz Focuses On Its Core Customers And Iconic Brands – Forbes
Carlos Abrams-Rivera, North America president of Kraft Heinz, shares key lessons on how he led the global brand through the pandemic and his outlook for 2023.
Food, Nature and Health Transitions – Repeatable Country Model – World Economic Forum
This report by WEF in collaboration with Bain & Co. identifies repeatable actions, investments, and collaborations that can accelerate the transition to more resilient, inclusive, sustainable, and healthy food systems.
Dairy giant Danone aims to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030 – Reuters
One of the world’s biggest dairy companies plans to cut methane emissions from its fresh milk supply chain by 30% by 2030 by working with farmers, other companies and governments on regenerative practices.
In 2011, we made the Nest thermostat. Now we’re coming for your banana peels to help save the planet – Fortune
Former co-founder and leader at Nest address the need and urgency to tackle the food waste problem and introduces their latest venture: The Mill, an innovative new kitchen bin that transforms food scraps into grounds that are then used to feed chickens.
Why food and beverage cases make up the majority of the ‘most ridiculous’ lawsuits – FoodDive
While there has been an increasing number of class action lawsuits filed against food & beverage CPG companies, with an all-time high of 325 class action cases filed in 2021, many lawsuits that seem more outlandish actually get thrown out before the cases get close to trial.
PepsiCo to invest in regenerative ag research – Food Business News
PepsiCo, Inc. has partnered with the AgMission initiative to issue a request for applications (RFA) to accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices in corn, wheat, oats, canola, soy and sugar beets in North America, Europe, South Africa and Australia.
Rockefeller Foundation commits $10.7 million to WFP for school meals – Philanthropy News Digest
The UN’s World Food Programme recently announced a $10.7 million commitment from Rockefeller Foundation to provide better nutrition to vulnerable children through school meal programs in Benin, Ghana, Honduras, and India.
Sparing or expanding? The effects of agricultural yields on farm expansion and deforestation in the tropics – Biodiversity and Conservation
This research study tested the association between agricultural yield on farmland expansion and on deforestation between 2000 and 2015 in 122 nations along the tropics, and in the main tropical regions. The findings showed that greater yield increases lead to higher deforestation rates in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and Caribbean and increasing yield average induces agriculture expansion in East Asia and Pacific.
Promoting Impactful Smallholder Action Partnerships at Davos – Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture
Simon Winter, Executive Director at Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), highlights the four key messages he shared at Davos last month and calls for the immediate need and urgency to put these in action.
FDA food chief resigns: Why has Frank Yiannas stepped down? – New Food Magazine
Frank Yiannas, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, announced his resignation last week, citing concerns about the “decentralized structure of the foods program”.
Amazon Will Start Charging Prime Members for US Grocery Orders of Less Than $150 – BNN Bloomberg
Starting February 28, Amazon will begin to charge fees to online shoppers for grocery orders of less than $150. The new fees coincide with the company’s efforts to cut costs and adjust to slower growth in online shopping.
Kerry’s fellowship with Upcycled Food Foundation explores future of food waste prevention – Borderless
The Kerry Upcycled Food Foundation Fellowship, a new research fellowship formed in partnership between Kerry and Upcycled Food Foundation, the non-profit subsidiary of the Upcycled Food Association, will work toward advancing the understanding of the market, consumer perception and technical opportunities of upcycled food.
Food & Agri Events for H1
Greenbiz – The Premier Annual Event For Sustainable Business Leaders
Feb 14-16, Scottsdale, Arizona Register
Natural Products Expo West
March 7-11, Anaheim, California Register
March 10-19, Austin, TX Register
Future Food-Tech Summit
March 16-17, San Francisco, California Register
April 17-19, Las Vegas, Nevada Register
ReFED Food Waste Summit
May 16-18, St. Louis, Missouri Register
The Vegan Women Summit
May 18-20, Brooklyn, New York Register
Upcycled Ingredients Summit
May 31-June 1, Chicago, Illinois Register
Interested in having me speak or moderate at a future event?
Please reach out via my website.