Building a better food future

“One of the greatest challenges when discussing the weighty topic of ‘sustainability’ is that the story isn’t always a positive one. It’s understandable, of course. Bad things are happening, so we need to wake up and act fast. But how much impact can each of us really make?

I received my very own ‘wake-up call’ several years ago having worked a decade in operations at dsm-firmenich. One morning I literally woke up and realized that as one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, we are in a unique position to turn this negative story into a positive – and change the way our society produces, consumes and disposes of food. We really can build a better food future - for all. So, I switched roles and moved into Sustainability to help make it happen. Here’s how.” – Fatima Zoundri, Head of Sustainability

It starts with taste (not waste!)

From an industry point of view, the starting point for any discussion about ‘food systems’ is not emissions or waste. It’s about the sensory qualities of the food being produced. If food & beverage products don’t feel good, with outstanding taste and texture, consumers simply won’t buy them. The real challenge, therefore, is delivering on this crucial requirement while positively impacting the health of both people and planet. At dsm-firmenich we tackle this challenge on five fronts.

Adding the good

While the consumption experience needs to feel good, the basic purpose of food is of course nourishment. At dsm-firmenich, our response is to enhance and enrich the nutritional profile of the food that manufacturers produce. We feel so strongly about this that our company has committed to supporting the immunity of 500 million people by 2030. We are achieving it largely through the fortification of everyday foods ranging from bread to beverages with a wide range of vitamins and nutrients including omega-3s that can be easily integrated into products.

Removing the bad

The other way to make food healthier for people and planet is to reduce the bad – salt, sugar, and fat. Achieving this isn’t easy and requires strong scientific know- how and deep application expertise to get it right. Here our reformulation solutions are enabling this to happen in everything from reduced-sugar dairy; to lower-fat cheese; to savory ingredients containing less sodium.

Plant power

The protein transition is a great thing for our society. The challenge for manufacturers? How to create products with the right sensory qualities; that bridge the nutrient gap with more sustainable traditional animal proteins - and are produced as sustainability as possible. Hence at dsm-firmenich we have scaled-up our expertise and portfolio of sustainable ingredients. Just one example is Vertis TM CanolaPRO® , a high-quality protein isolate that is produced from the canola seed pulp previously inedible to humans. We believe it will help us achieve another major dsm-firmenich food commitment: feeding 150 million people with plant-based protein by 2030.

Sustainable solutions

The beauty of being a biotech company is that the vast majority of our ingredients (enzymes, cultures, vitamins, plant-based proteins) are natural – and produced via efficient processes like microbial fermentation, for example. Furthermore, they also deliver important sustainability to our customers’ products: not just in terms of enabling a clean label, but also protecting food, extending shelf-life and preventing food waste.

Carbon is the new calorie

Today, it’s estimated that global food production and consumption contributes to 25-30% of global Greenhouse Gas emissions. Meanwhile, roughly the same percentage of food is wasted globally every year.

The good news is that there is a huge amount we can do – and are doing – to reshape and rebuild our food future to be more nourishing and, ultimately, regenerative. At dsm-firmenich our vision is that eventually our Food System becomes a Food Cycle. There’s still much work to be done of course. But the positive news is that together, as a food industry, we have the power to achieve it!

Published on

02 June 2023


  • Consumer insights