Geopolitical instability, supply chain disruptions, energy inflation, cash-strapped consumers – it has been a tumultuous year. Before we say goodbye to it, we take a look at 2022 in news: all the biggest headlines and all the stories you’ve read the most on Food Matters Live, month by month.
Italian Antitrust launches investigation into Nutri-Score food labelling system
The food news cycle kicked off in 2022 with Italy launching an investigation into the Nutri-Score food labelling system, which it claimed was misleading and had the potential to adversely affect the sales, exports and consumption of national produce. Italy had previously stated that labelling products healthy or unhealthy based on their content of fat, sugar and salt is limiting and incorrect. As of the end of 2022, a uniform nutritional labelling system still has yet to be decided upon by the EU, but preference has largely shifted away from the Nutri-Score.
Dug plant-based potato milk goes on sale in Waitrose
In February potato milk hit UK supermarket shelves via Waitrose. Continuing the expanding trend of plant-based milks, Swedish company Dug claimed to be the first to have created the dairy-alternative using the humble potato. Waitrose shoppers could choose from three varieties: Dug Original, Dug Barista and Dug Unsweetened.
How the Russia-Ukraine war will impact global food security
Following the outbreak of conflict between Russia and Ukraine in February, in March Food Matters Live examined how the headlines coming out of the region would impact the global food system. From fertiliser prices, to natural gas, sunflower seeds and grain shortages, the effects of the war continue to have wide-ranging consequences for the world.
Selfridges to serve Redefine Meat’s 3D-printed plant-based meat in its restaurants
April saw Israeli plant-based meat alternative company Redefine Meat strike a deal with London’s Selfridges, making the department store the first in the world to sell New-Meat products. The Selfridges restaurants offered diners two dishes: a New-Meat lamb alternative in a ciabatta roll sandwich and a Spanish white bean stew with New-Meat sausage.
Government accused of “playing politics with children’s health” as it delayed HFSS advertising and multi-buy bans
Owing to what it called an “unprecedented global economic situation”, the Government announced in May that it would not be preventing shops from offering multi-buy deals on foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS), nor introduce a pre-watershed advertising ban this year as originally promised. Backlash ensued from health groups, with then-PM Boris Johnson accused of “delaying and dithering to implement his own obesity strategy” at a critical time for the nations’ health.
Queen’s University Belfast and University of East Anglia rank top for agriculture and food sciences research in the UK
Also in May, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of East Anglia (UEA) came out top of the Research Excellence Framework rankings for Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Sciences. The assessment is conducted every six to seven years and analyses the quality of research across UK universities, taking into consideration the research outputs, impact and environment.
The Government Food Strategy calls for new technologies and increase in sustainable food production but it’s unclear on how to tackle the cost of living crisis
After much delay, the Government Food Strategy was published in June. The strategy was focussed on increasing local and sustainable food production in the country, creating new jobs and growing the national economy through new trade agreements following Britain’s exit from the European Union. It was a controversial document from the outset, with critics finding that the strategy had “good intentions, but no action plan”.
Avocado alternative developed with British ingredients to tackle unsustainability of the fruit
In July, environmentally conscious avocado-lovers were dealt a win, after University of Arts London Central Saint Martins student Arina Shokouhi unveiled her invention: the Ecovado. Avocados are an incredibly energy- and resource-intensive food to produce and transport, and Shokouhi wanted to address this with an alternative made from locally sourced ingredients. Working with food scientist Jack Wallman from the University of Nottingham’s Food Innovation Centre she combined abundant ingredients like rapeseed oil, hazelnuts and broad beans, to create a taste and texture sensation akin to the popular fruit.
Olive oil, risotto rice and tomatoes among ingredients threatened by Northern Italy drought
Also in July, food producers in Northern Italy warned the world that the longstanding drought suffered by the area would negatively impact supplies of Italian staples like olive oil, risotto rice and tomatoes. Farmers in the Po Valley warned of a “significant reduction” in crop yields later in the year. Associated foods were predicted to rise in price by 50%, as the adverse growing conditions contributed to food scarcity.
Researchers at Aalto University develop blockchain-backed app to help consumers make sustainable food choices
With summer in full swing in August, researchers at Aalto University in Finland offered consumers a new way of making sustainable dietary choices using blockchain technology. The Food Suffering & Wellbeing Index used anti-rival blockchain tokens and distributed ledger technology to measure and collect data on food choices and show users the collective effect of their individual actions. According to research conducted by the developers, the technology made people feel “empowered” in making better food decisions.
Death of Queen Elizabeth II invalidates food and drink brands’ Royal Warrants
Back in September, the death of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch automatically voided the hundreds of Royal Warrants that she issued, meaning the Royal Arms symbol would no longer be displayed on the packaging of Heinz, Pimm’s, and Cadbury products, among many others. A British Royal Warrant is an official acknowledgement that a company has supplied goods or services to the royal family. Such companies have two years to apply to get their Royal Warrant renewed by King Charles III.
Nearly a quarter of a million children in London don’t have access to enough food, report reveals
In October, a damning report from Labour London Assembly Member for Lambeth and Southwark, Marina Ahmad, revealed the news that around 250,000 children are expected to be living with food insecurity in the capital in 2022. The findings also showed that children with single parents in London were more likely to struggle, with more than a quarter experiencing food insecurity in comparison to 8% of kids living in a two-parent household.
‘A new era’: Upside Foods gets FDA green light for cultivated chicken
Foodtech experts the world over had their eyes on the US in November, where it was revealed Upside Foods had become the first to receive a ‘No Questions’ letter from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The letter signalled the FDA had accepted Upside’s evidence that its cultivated chicken was safe for human consumption – an important step on the road to full commercialisation of the product.
Government delays HFSS advertising ban
Another stalling measure from the Government came in December, as it revealed it would not be pressing ahead with a pre-watershed advertising ban on HFSS products in the new year as originally promised. The ban was rescheduled to take effect in 2025 – though accompanying legislation stopping multi-buy offers is still expected to come into effect in January 2023.