Tag: food

Consumers willing to pay more for eco-friendly food packaging

When it comes to food and beverage packaging, consumers are most likely to pay more for value-added features that relate to freshness and sustainability, according to a global study by Ipsos InnoQuest.

On a global basis, consumers were most likely to say they would pay more for “packaging that keeps food fresh longer” (55%) and “packaging that is environmentally-friendly” (55%). Following freshness and environmental benefits, consumers said they were likely to pay more for packaging that is re-usable (42%) and easier to use (39%).

Interestingly, more sophisticated packaging features were less likely to motivate consumers to spend more: packaging that prevents mess or spills, keeps food and beverages at the right temperature, and makes it easier to eat and drink on-the-go ranked lowest (34%, 33% and 31%, respectively).

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The future of agriculture: Two scenarios

Here are links to two scenarios for the future of agriculture. The first, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is the “expected future.” It assumes zero disruptive change, a mere mid-point extrapolation of current conditions.  The second is from a group of scientists concerned about the effects of global climate change on agriculture — including lower crop yields, flooding and crop disease — and thinking about the possibilities of biotech to deal with that. Continue reading “The future of agriculture: Two scenarios”

The president-elect will face big problems, threats

It’ll be a short honeymoon. The next U.S. president will face high expectations (which may be impossible to fulfill), a recessionary economy and huge budget deficits. And that’s just domestically. Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, gave a speech this week that lays out the broader threats. As The Washington Post reported:

The next U.S. president will govern in an era of increasing international instability, including a heightened risk of terrorist attacks in the near future, long-term prospects of regional conflicts and diminished U.S. dominance across the globe, the nation’s top intelligence officer said Thursday.

Competition for energy, water and food will drive conflicts between nations to a degree not seen in decades, and climate change and global economic upheaval will amplify the effects, [McConnell said].

“After the new president-elect’s excitement subsides after winning the election, it is going to be dampened somewhat when he begins to focus on the realities of the myriad of changes and challenges,” he said.

Of course, besides the predictable conflicts and threats, “there is always surprise,” McConnell said. (Futurists call ’em wild cards.)

Continue reading “The president-elect will face big problems, threats”

Food inflation is leading to food riots

Global food prices are up 83% in the past three years, putting huge stress on some of the world’s poorest countries, notes a recent Wall Street Journal article ( 14 April 2008 ).

Rioting in response to soaring food prices recently has broken out in Egypt, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ethiopia. In Pakistan and Thailand, army troops have been deployed to deter food theft from fields and warehouses.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned in a recent speech that 33 countries are at risk of social upheaval because of rising food prices. Those could include Indonesia, Yemen, Ghana, Uzbekistan and the Philippines.

Some countries say the U.S. appetite for biofuels is part of the problem.

“When millions of people are going hungry, it’s a crime against humanity that food should be diverted to biofuels,” said India’s finance minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, in an interview. Turkey’s finance minister, Mehmet Simsek, said the use of food for biofuels is “appalling.”

The U.S. government notes that biofuels are only one contributor to rising food prices. Rising prices for energy and electricity also contribute, as does strong demand for food from big developing countries like China, the article said. Aggravating the problem, in some countries food inflation has prompted a wave of protectionism — in essence, trying to keep more food in their country by restricting exports. Also, some countries are boosting consumer subsidies and instituting price controls.

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Related:
The price of rice is sky high
Riots, instability spread as food prices skyrocket
Haiti’s government falls after food riots

The price of rice is sky high

The global commodities boom that has lifted prices of everything from gasoline to gold is now elevating the price of rice — a staple food for half of the world — to its highest level in nearly 20 years. The ubiquitous grain is suffering from poor harvest and tight supplies, just as demand grows in places such as India and the Philippines. The price hikes are a boon to some farmers and investors, but the food-price inflation could widen the rift between the world’s haves and have-nots. — The Wall Street Journal (15 December 2007)