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Tackling global food and water challenges through international collaboration

Posted: 24 February 2020 | | No comments yet

Members of the International Food and Water Research Centre (IFWRC) Scientific Advisory Panel discuss current challenges the food industry is facing, including climate change and food fraud, as well as key trends and the role of international collaboration between industry, academia, government and non-government organisations.

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The delicate balance between the human population and resource availability is under threat, due to its ever-increasing size – a fact that has been well-reported for many years. By 2050, the global population will increase by 28 percent, and demand for food will be 60 to 98 percent higher than it is today. It is also estimated that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will face water shortages, and that freshwater contamination will cost the US $4.3 billion per year.

Awareness surrounding climate change and increasing consumer pressure to focus on the industry’s environmental impact is placing the spotlight on sustainability. While governments, manufacturers and packaging companies are making commitments to improve the circularity of packaging and reduce plastic waste, other factors such as environmental pollution, urbanisation, soil erosion, and food integrity play a role in sustainability too.

Nutrition and wellness are also key trends in the food industry, with diversifying fields of research. For example, Mintel identified ‘healthy ageing’ as one of its 2019 global food and drink trends,1 driven by the growing proportion of the population aged 60 and over. This presents an opportunity for manufacturers to address age-related health implications and develop products to promote healthy ageing. Another example of novel research is the study of how food and drink affects the circadian rhythm, which impacts overall health.

Waters’ International Food and Water Research Center (IFWRC) was opened in Singapore to further innovative research in the food and water industries, by creating a platform for both industry and academia to solve their challenges. One of the primary advantages offered by the IFWRC is timely access to state-of-the-art instrumentation along with on-site staff specialists. This helps to facilitate and fast track projects that researchers are otherwise unable to resource in their own organisation’s infrastructure. A Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), comprised of experts from academic and industrial fields, is responsible for selecting which projects should go ahead, prioritising those that are deemed to contribute to wider industry goals.

There are two things that everyone on this planet has in common, regardless of age, gender or race: the right to access safe nutritious food and clean water. Whether we’re talking about regulators, contract testing organisations, private industry or academia, everyone is working together to advance the cause of food and water security around the world.











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