Research topics Bio-based economy On the drawing board, the applications and techniques related to a biobased economy – an economy in which everything is produced sustainably and efficiently – seem promising. The actual transition appears more complex, however. The challenge is to develop all the fine ideas into useful concepts for businesses and consumers. How do we do that? Food security Food security is one of the great challenges of our time. The Earth is expected to have nine billion inhabitants by 2050. Together with the effects of climate change – such as the increased scarcity of fresh water and energy – this rise in population will make the worldwide production of and access to food uncertain, while the market prices of key food crops become more volatile. Towards a healthy diet in a liveable environment More than half the world's population lives in a city – in Europe the proportion is as high as 75 per cent – and that share is rising. In 2050, more than three-quarters of the nine billion people inhabiting the earth will be located in cities. This global urbanisation will lead to issues regarding food supply: How will we produce and distribute sufficient and varied food for and to these urban populations in a healthy and responsible manner? Nexus The growth of the world population and our current way of life are intensifying climate change, depleting natural resources and increasing pollution. Only by making living, working, recreation, food production and consumption more structurally sustainable can we turn the tide. Market Intelligence Do you want to understand the motivations, drivers and impacts of food consumption to help your business gain a competitive edge? We support agrifood sectors in this. Our market insights enable you to take action towards a more resilient, equitable and delicious future for food. Personalised nutrition The number of people suffering from health problems related to unhealthy diets in the Netherlands is still rising: obesity and its associated problems such as type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Public health campaigns, most of them with a one-size-fits-all approach, have hardly been effective in mitigating the nutrition-related non-communicable diseases and its consequences. Recent academic studies in the field of human nutrition show that differences between individuals determine how their health is affected by their diet. This implies that different individuals could respond differently to the same their diets. Towards an inclusive & sustainable economy One of the biggest challenges facing global society today is the provision of food, water, energy, healthcare and other resources and services to a world with an increasing population, in the face of mounting environmental stresses and rising inequality. There is a need for circular and resilient food systems that close material flow loops in the complete supply chain from farmers to consumers and back. This should be done in a resource efficient manner that includes all relevant actors. Markets and chains Business economic information and market data, knowledge of power relations, competition and price-making; within Wageningen Economic Research we have a wealth of data that can be interlinked to provide unique insights. This market intelligence data is deployed to support companies in making policy and investment decisions. Consumer & Food The agrifood sector extends across the entire food spectrum, from primary production to processing, marketing, and distribution. Both the Dutch and the international agrifood sector are committed to the production of top-quality food in sustainable chains, where people, livestock, and the environment are paramount. In order to meet this commitment a consumer-oriented and market-based approach is essential. Innovate your business in five steps A successful company today is by no means a guarantee for success in the future. Geopolitical turbulence, demographic and labour market developments, innovations in e.g., robotics and autonomous systems, capricious consumer behaviour, data-driven micro-targeting, privacy concerns, new laws and regulations, etcetera… All can have a big impact on business performance. Realise change through social innovation Working towards a more sustainable and healthier food system and living environment requires efforts from different people and rarely goes without a struggle. Due to the complexity and inherent resistance, many ambitious projects, initiatives and networks get bogged down and social challenges are passed on to the next generation. With the Social Innovation Approach, Wageningen Economic Research supports initiatives that work on step-by-step and pioneering innovation in the field of food and nature. Organising new ICT applications Data systems and ICT solutions have become indispensable in the agrofood sector. In the optimum deployment of new ICT technologies, the efficient organisation of the innovation is a point of concern and there are also questions about the management of data and the effects on the chain organisation. These include the contribution to be made to the improved sustainability of the sector, the development of new processes and chain management, as well as to the development of new data and IT ecosystems Impact evaluations Evaluations provide insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of implemented measures. The goal of an ex-ante evaluation is to analyse whether the goals can be achieved or whether they can be measured by means of the associated intervention logic and proposed indicators. Policy research and analyses Wageningen Economic Research performs many analyses in the preparation of new policies for regional, national and international governments. This involves a wide range of policy issues, such as the development of agricultural sectors, environment, water, nature, spatial planning and consumer issues. Sustainability monitoring The regular market economy does not incorporate information on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, non renewable resources, natural capital and inclusiveness. Helpful tools to provide direct insights into the current gaps between market-based outcomes and more sustainable and inclusive target results include regular monitoring and inclusive procedures. Risk management Adequate insights into the uncertainties that affect changes in production, transformation & exchange processes and developments in consumption practices may help to convince public, private and civic parties to engage in environmental upgrading and inclusive value chain development programmes. There are different tools for assessing the environmental risks of investment activities and for providing insights into the distributional effects of market interventions. These can be used to facilitate policy debates on different strategies towards inclusive and sustainable agrifood systems. Marine policy The economic importance of the seas is increasing due to their role in energy, transport, the fisheries, aquaculture and recreation. This confronts companies and government agencies with challenges relating to economy, ecology, market and chain and management issues. Our studies, analyses and insights contribute to the creation of solutions. We make use of our knowledge of land and marine food production and of our scientific expertise in sectors, models and entrepreneurship. We examine the national and international policy contexts and build on our national and international databases. Our work contributes to the sustainable utilisation of the seas. Integrated agrofood systems and policies A major challenge faced by the global food system is to feed a population which may rise to nearly 10.5 billion by 2100. These people will also be comparatively richer on average and the majority will live in an urbanised environment. The demand for (high-quality) food will therefore increase by even more than the growth in population suggests. Resilient high-quality agriculture and food systems are required to provide consumers with healthy and safe food and to ensure they can more easily make healthy choices. Agro & food policy Several European markets are characterised by oversupply and low farmer prices, with society and policy makers discussing sustainability, environment, the relation between food and health and ethical topics, such as animal welfare and food waste. In addition, current value chains are under pressure and new structures are upcoming. These developments raise the question whether agricultural policy should develop into a food policy and how such a policy should regulate the retail and food industry and its increasing control over agriculture and its responsibility for healthy diets. Improving sustainability along the Agri & Food chain Sustainability is high on many companies’ agendas. Organisations are striding to meet a variety of sustainability goals, such as lowering your carbon footprint and improving working conditions across value chains. These topics are big and complex and often outside your circle of influence. You have already taken some steps in the right direction, but how can you tell if your strategy is working? Are you pursuing the right goals? And what is the next step to gain a competitive advantage and to strengthen your business? Find out how we can help you with achieving your sustainability goals.