PwC study: Africa's food sustainability depends on greener production and waste reduction

PwC study: Africa's food sustainability depends on greener production and waste reduction
26 April 2024

Zawya reports: Africa, like the rest of the world, is grappling with a food crisis exacerbated by disruptions in the global supply chain due to events such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Long-standing challenges like population growth, climate change, and resource-intensive farming practices further compound the issue. PwC's Megatrends research emphasizes the urgent need for a sustainable overhaul of the global food production and distribution systems to address these challenges effectively.

Andrew Dale, a PwC Africa assurance partner, emphasizes the importance of treating food security and affordability as critical issues for global prosperity and wellbeing. He advocates for rebuilding the food economy sustainably, akin to the post-Second World War reconstruction efforts.

Despite the daunting challenges, positive changes are underway in the food production value chain. Across Africa, sustainability concerns are gaining traction among food producers, regulators, and consumers, leading to a shift towards new sustainable agricultural practices. PwC's report, "The sustainable food revolution: Future-proofing the world’s food supply," identifies key strategies for meeting future nutrition demand sustainably without significantly increasing food prices.

These strategies include:
1. Avoiding food losses in the supply chain,
2. Adopting cleaner and greener methods of food production, and
3. Implementing food substitutions at the consumption level.

PwC's Africa-focused blog delves deeper into the first two categories, highlighting specific points:
1. Organic farming offers profit potential and sustainability benefits, with studies showing that despite higher labor costs and lower yields, organic farming can be up to 35% more profitable than conventional high-intensity farming.
2. Agricultural technology (agtech) and precision agriculture enable more focused and precise application of inputs, increasing productivity while reducing environmental impact.
3. Reducing food losses in distribution and retail processes is crucial, necessitating more transparent supply chains and ethical practices to build consumer trust.
4. Regulatory changes, such as sustainability reporting and animal welfare standards, will shape the structure and cost base of food production.
5. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) requirements will become increasingly important, impacting investor allocations and the cost of capital for ESG-compliant businesses.

The current food crisis necessitates proactive change from food industry stakeholders. Lullu Krugel, PwC Africa sustainability leader, stresses the importance of optimizing across the food production cycle and embracing environmental and social justice considerations. She urges stakeholders to proactively engage in this cycle of change to maximize its impact on their businesses and societies at large.

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