Global Insights Series: Crops and Climate

This Global Insight Series focuses on the intersection between climate and crops. As our world grapples with the multifaceted challenges posed by climate change, the resilience of crops becomes increasingly pertinent, and this GIS uncovers insights from recent research that focuses on building up the resilience of global crop systems.

As the climate crisis continues to gather momentum, inherent vulnerabilities in crop systems are amplified, as the climate is the key conductor in the rhythm of agricultural productivity- influencing temperature, and precipitation, and working alongside our precious ecosystem. However, there are a vast school of farmers and researchers working to build climate-smart agricultural practices, cultivating resilience amidst adversity. 

Our suppliers are partnering directly with growers and communities, working hard to incorporate sustainability initiatives into their production, and making “doing better” common practice. From crop competitiveness, responsible consumption and production, and digital innovations, we are proud to partner with our key suppliers who embrace these new techniques, working alongside the changing environment to reduce their impact.

As a world population, we are reliant on just 12 plants and animals for 75% of our diet [1] but with gene-editing, researchers are able turn previously inedible crops into viable food sources.

Super Crops

As consumers look to eat less and better, we are seeing greater attention on new superfoods and a renaissance for ancient grains. When we think of super-food, we used to think of green smoothies, but now superfoods and grains encompass crops that deliver both nutritionally and environmentally. UK-based Bold Bean, and Australian based Woods Foods, have been on a mission to make the humble bean great again, not just as nutritional powerhouses, but also because they are soil-building crops, natural fertilisers, and cover crops, protecting soil from erosion.

Their work in popularising beans and legumes opens a significant gap for dried beans and legumes to be used in snacking, baking, as toppers, and in a myriad of other ways to support the nutrition and environmental credentials of dishes. By placing greater importance on foods like these in our diets, the consumer can reinforce, and support, crop resilience globally. Ancient grains like teff and buckwheat are also becoming increasingly desirable to consumers. In a world where climate change is part of the everyday lexicon, the climate-smarts and nutritional superiority of these grains are invaluable. Furthermore, as consumers look more towards heritage ingredients and authenticity, ancient grains provide this connection to tradition.

Likewise, researchers and scientists are gene-editing plants to support the supply and quality of food production. What once took generations can now be done in one careful process, introducing specific desirable genes to crops to support their natural defences. As a world population, we are reliant on just 12 plants and animals for 75% of our diet [1] but with gene-editing researchers can turn previously inedible crops into viable food sources. This will open the door for greater diversification in our diets, but also for farmers and companies looking to introduce more sustainable farming methods. 


The New Wave of Farming

Regenerative farming and sustainable farming practices can also provide natural support and boost resilience in plants and crops. Crop rotation, cover cropping, low or no-till practices, and other natural farming methods can support crop strength resilience, enhance plant health, discourage bad bacteria, and simply create a more positive environment for both current and future crops. Although more timely and often costly, these sorts of farming practices are increasingly being employed as consumers look towards brands that embody this preventative, climate-positive ethos. These methods are also moving from land to sea as the health benefits of seaweed and algae become more widely known, and aquaculture comes into the spotlight.

We have seen all kitchen staples come under the climate impact scrutiny, from meat to milk, and olive oil is next. In response to this, US-based Algae Cooking Club have engineered an oil made from algae grown in bioreactors. This not only mitigates the need for farming naturally occurring algae, but functionally it also boasts a high-smoke point like other vegetable-based oils and is high in omega-3 and fatty acids. Likewise, breweries from the US to Australia, and the UK are harnessing the power of kelp and algae in the brewing process. UK-based Portsmouth brewery uses kelp as a key ingredient in their new ‘Selkie’ brew and Young Henry’s Brewery in Sydney has harnessed the power of algae to support their carbon sequestration. Their brewers estimate their algae release as much oxygen as two hectares of bushland- pretty incredible.

Algae is making its culinary emergence with Algae oil entering the market.

Labels for Change

As outlined in our previous GIS on food waste- our food waste habits and processes are drastically influencing our climate. In the same way that the climate is pressurising our agricultural system, how we consume food (or not as it turns out) is also detrimental to our climate. Labelling will play a large part in supporting agricultural waste and practice, through eco-labelling, carbon labelling and labelling for food waste. UK-based Sysco and Nutritics have introduced a carbon-labelling system for UK businesses which intends to make it easier for consumers to make sustainable food choices, but also for chefs and developers to create more sustainably focused menus.

London restaurant St Barts is the first restaurant in London to earn both a Michelin star and a green Michelin star for sustainability, demonstrating the consumer appetite for the convergence of culinary excellence and climate awareness. As with all food and sustainability trends, we can expect this climate consciousness to trickle down from a select few pioneering restaurants to the everyday household, as appetite grows for new consuming practices.

Below we share some examples of brands that are taking sustainability into their hands, from unconventional grains to new age farming techniques:


United Kingdom – The Happy Timmy Co.

Deemed ‘legendary’ by Gweneth Paltrow’s brand Goop, this company uses Teff as a key component in the majority of their baked goods. Teff contains five times the amount of iron than wheat and has greater bioavailability.

Australia – Woodstock Flour

“Flour that makes a difference”. This company produces their flour in small batches through regenerative, organic farming practices.

Singapore – GroGrace

Grace Lim, Founder of GroGrace, built her first urban farm at home in 2019 to feed her family. She now leverages Dutch horticultural techniques and dry hydroponics to cultivate a variety of plants in their urban warehouse, transforming food security in Singapore.

New Zealand – Quartz Reef Wines

This NZ company are creating biodynamic wine, treating the entire vineyard as one big eco-system, aligning the elements and reducing the need for potentially harmful chemical and human intervention.

Whilst we embrace technology in agriculture, we are also embracing traditional farming practices in order to strengthen crops and support our food systems. There are a myriad of solutions on offer for food producers and consumers and by championing these innovations we can forge new paths of food production.

For more information on food trends and market insights, check out our journals here.

2. The Food People Ltd 2024

Please note, we are not affiliated, associated, or in any way officially connected with the brands and products mentioned within this post. 

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