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Three sustainable food trends for 2018

January 18, 2018

In 2018, sustainability will play an increasing role in the way food is grown, produced and marketed. As food companies focus on sustainable ingredients to meet consumer demand, innovative use of technology will play a greater role in helping to protect the environment. New approaches will be required, including strategic partnerships involving some unexpected allies.

Cargill has a hand in shaping the food industry’s progress toward greater sustainability in the year ahead. Here’s a look at key trends for 2018 involving sustainable ingredients, technology and partnerships.

Sustainable ingredients

Consumers and food producers increasingly seek products made with sustainable ingredients. These products make up a growing share of Cargill’s portfolio, including:

  • Palm oil – Cargill has committed to ending deforestation in its supply chains and requires its palm oil suppliers to abide by its sustainable palm oil policy. We are nearing our goal of 100 percent traceability of palm oil to the mill level by 2020, and we continue working with industry partners to advance sustainable practices.
  • Cocoa – Cargill is addressing deforestation risk in its cocoa supply chain in a variety of ways, including training more than 90,000 farmers in sustainable practices – and paying them more for sustainably grown cocoa.
  • Coconut oil – Partnering with BASF, Procter & Gamble and the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), Cargill pioneered the world’s first sustainability standard for coconut oil in the Philippines and Indonesia. Smallholder farmers were trained on best practices and are now producing certified sustainable coconut oil.
  • Pea protein – Cargill’s new protein made from peas (grown organically in North America as a rotation crop) helps meet increasing demand for diversification in plant-based proteins.
  • Carrageenan – Cargill’s Seabrid™ carrageenan extract made from sustainably sourced 100 percent cultivated seaweed is now being used as a texturizer in foods, such as creamy desserts like flans and custards.


Technological advances are key to helping the food industry improve sustainability. Cargill is using science to address sustainability challenges in agriculture and food production and to increase traceability, including:

  • Satellite monitoring to track commodities to their point or origin and ensure they are being grown sustainably – especially for crops grown hard-to-reach places, by networks of independent farmers and cooperatives, in areas that are vulnerable to deforestation. Through our partnership with the World Resources Institute, we’ve mapped 166 million hectares of land to date in our sourcing areas.
  • Blockchain and radio-frequency identification (RFID) for greater traceability of animal protein, such as Cargill’s industry-leading ability for consumers to trace our Honeysuckle White turkeys from farm to table using blockchain technology and a pilot project using RFID tag systems with beef cattle.
  • Process innovation, including use of fermentation, research into development of cultured meat products and replacement of the omega-3 fatty acids in fish feed with oil made from sustainably grown canola rather than using wild-caught fish oil.


Many of the sustainability challenges facing our food system are bigger than any single company, country or industry. In 2018, greater collaboration will be needed across broad coalitions that unite private companies, non-governmental organizations, and local and national governments. Business plays an important role in advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to end poverty, address climate change and ensure prosperity for all. We are deepening our partnerships to address these priorities. Here are just a few of the partnerships we expect will make an impact on sustainability in 2018:

  • The Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI), which was the driving force behind two frameworks announced at the November 2017 UN Climate Conference COP23 in Bonn, Germany, will introduce action plans in 2018 uniting industry, farmers and governments to reduce deforestation in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
  • We’ve been working with CARE for over 50 years and continue to collaborate to promote a sustainable and food secure world.
  • With the World Food Program USA and the UN World Food Programme (WFP), we are investing to support improved school meals programs and increase access to markets for farmers across Kenya, Honduras and Indonesia with the aim to reach over 100,000 people across the three countries.