Rabobank Executive Board Member Berry Marttin joined U.S. Soybean Export Council CEO Jim Sutter in the Soy Suite, a series of live conversations with global experts on trends shaping the food and agriculture sector, as well as soy – on May 18.
During their wide-ranging conversation, Marttin and Sutter discussed nutrition and GHG emissions, carbon farming, conscious consumption, labeling, and more. Here are some highlights.
GHG Emissions and Nutrition
Marttin and Sutter first dove into the topic of how GHG emissions relate to nutrition. Marttin posited that emissions should be measured by nutrition rather than by calories or tonnage. If people go for the least expensive calorie, he said, consumers would only be eating sugar. And while meat’s emissions per ton may seem like a lot, when meat is measured by nutrition, its emissions are not much.
Reducing GHG Emissions via Carbon Farming
Marttin believes farmers should be properly compensated for carbon sequestration. The cost of putting carbon into the soil on a farm is approximately $15-20/ton and the next best alternative costs around $300/ton. U.S. farmers help remove GHGs through the management and preservation of grasslands, wetlands, and forestland, which create and maintain carbon sinks that store carbon in the soil. By scaling up investments in climate-smart agriculture, the U.S. ag industry can further reduce emissions over the next decade. Marttin also emphasized a focus on food being “nature positive” by balancing environmental impact and yield growth. Sutter agreed that there’s value in ag innovation and breeding, looking at both productivity and carbon sequestration.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers rediscovered cooking at home and, particularly in the United States, South America, Asia, and Europe, were willing to upgrade their food buying. Younger generations are more conscious about what they eat. Marttin suggested that food waste could be reduced by educating consumers on the importance of safeguarding nutrition and conscious consumption.
Transparency – Labelling and Traceability
Today’s consumers often purchase food emotionally, so providing the right information to people about what they’re purchasing is critical. Food labeling has been very successful, Marttin said. Consumers understood price and calorie information and showing water and GHG emissions on labels would also be beneficial. He suggested that growers can reconnect with consumers through transparency, traceability, and telling their sustainability stories.
Full Video Available
To watch the May 2021 Soy Suite in its entirety, please click here.