Monocle and Lombard Odier - Rethink Sustainability II


Lombard Odier and Monocle further explore how businesses are revolutionising the way that we deal with resource shortages. Meet the start-ups that are rethinking how food can be produced, prepared, distributed and consumed in a sustainable way. The agricultural industry needs to adapt and so do we.

Case study 04 - Essento - Switzerland

Zürich-based food manufacturer Essento wants to bring edible insects to Switzerland. “We had a positive experience with them abroad and were surprised at how tasty they were,” says executive sales manager Melchior Füglistaller, who helped launch an initiative to change Switzerland’s food-safety legislation to allow the sale of insects. In May, Switzerland became the first EEA nation to authorise the sale of insect-based produce. “Essento had been preparing for this moment for three years,” says Füglistaller, noting that other EU countries are also debating the matter.

More than two billion people already supplement their diet with insects and, according to the UN, eating more bugs could help fight world hunger and reduce pollution. Not only do insects require fewer resources to farm, they also produce very little carbon dioxide compared to livestock and are a similarly powerful source of protein, vitamins and minerals. While they may not look as appetising, crickets and grasshoppers have been compared to popcorn and chicken in taste. “We’re spending a lot of time on the road with workshops, events and our street-food booth,” says Füglistaller. “It might take some time before people eat insects on a daily basis but we’re working towards it.”


Case study 05 - Bulk Market - UK

Specialised grocery shops stocking high-quality regional produce have been popping up in London for the past few years, yet until last September there was no sign of a packaging-free supermarket. Bulk Market has opened its doors in east London’s Dalston and, despite its wholesale-sounding name, it is a pint-sized establishment with a big message. “This shop is everything I believe in,” says founder Ingrid Caldironi. “I believe that you should be able to consume without creating waste.”

Monocle2_Article-B.jpgFrom Essex-grown quinoa to cleaning products made in Exmoor, Bulk Market stocks about 300 products that are sourced close to home, produced sustainably and sold loose. Customers need only come into the shop with their own jars and boxes to stock up.

Given UK chain supermarkets’ tendency to wrap much of their produce – including fruit and vegetables – in plastic, Caldironi’s idea bucks a trend. As France introduces a ban on plastic cutlery and Germany decides to offer refundable deposits on recyclable packaging, other UK businesses could take a leaf from Caldironi’s book. Nothing in her shop ends up in landfill: even the pulp from the orange juicer she uses to make fresh drinks is re-used to add extra flavour to her crunchy granola.

Case study 06 - Full Harvest - USA

A crooked cucumber, a double-tipped carrot, a twisted romaine lettuce: these imperfect vegetables can often be dubbed too “ugly” to make it onto supermarket shelves. In the US, nearly nine billion kilograms of flawed produce don’t meet the aesthetic standards of major retailers – and are, therefore, simply thrown away.

“I found this unacceptable, especially given how many of our valuable resources are also wasted on foods not eaten,” says Christine Moseley. The company she founded in San Francisco in 2015, Full Harvest, aims to find a better use for less-photogenic but perfectly edible vegetables. By connecting farms directly to food businesses, Full Harvest enables misshapen produce to be sold at a discounted price. It’s a solution that can save enormous amounts for the many cafés and restaurants that buy perfectly formed fruit and vegetables at exorbitant prices only to slice them up shortly afterwards.

Q&A - Ratatouille - Italy

Named after the vegetable stew that is often a receptacle for food past its prime, Ratatouille is a food-sharing app that encourages the equally inventive use of excess food that would otherwise go off. Co-founder Luca Milan was one of four Italian developers who started the project in 2014. He tells us more about the recipe behind its success and what’s cooking for Ratatouille’s future.

How was Ratatouille born?

We all lived on our own and realised we accumulated food in our fridge that we simply could not finish in time. We’re always travelling for work so we had pantries full of gone-off items; knowing we were throwing them away felt totally wrong. So we set about finding a way to share it.

How many people use the app and how does it work?

We have about 3,500 users – we started from Venice so most of them are Italian but we also have good bases in London, New York and San Francisco. All you need to do is list the foods that you have available and look up who else has the ingredients you need. As well as curbing waste, we always hoped that the app would help people find others who share their values.

How is the project evolving?

We’re thinking of adding features so that small agriculture producers can make themselves known, be they small businesses or anybody with a vegetable patch.

Important information

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