Silk, a plant-based food and beverage brand of WhiteWave Foods, Broomfield, Colo., announced a year-long sponsored research initiative with the Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHGE) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, to research differences in how food companies, academics, industry leaders and the general public perceive the challenges facing the food industry and its attempts to feed the world in a healthy and sustainable way.

“It is estimated that the world will require 70% more food to feed a global population of 9.6 billion by 2050, and to meet the needs of this growing population, it’s clear that we need to change the way we produce, distribute and eat food,” says Craig Shiesley, president of Silk. “It’s our hope that the Center for Health and the Global Environment’s research findings will create meaningful dialogue among key stakeholders in the food industry and help consumers make choices that are better for their health and the planet. We also anticipate that the research findings could inform the direction of our business moving forward.”

“We are thrilled to engage in this research that directly extends from our center’s mission, as it seeks to better understand opportunities to provide for a more nutritious, sustainable and equitable food supply,” says Aaron Bernstein, associate director, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard School of Public Health.

The research will focus on environmental sustainability, transparency and health and wellness, and will:

  • Examine to what extent companies are committed to ensuring their business operations and supply chains minimize environmental impact.
  • Consider to what extent companies are communicating openly and clearly about the journey of food from farm to table and the ingredients in their products, so consumers know what they are buying and eating.
  • Evaluate how committed packaged food and beverage companies are to providing products that reflect public health concerns and to making these healthier options more desirable, affordable and accessible.

Separately, Silk, with input from CHGE, intends to survey U.S. consumers about their attitudes and behaviors regarding plant-based diets and the impact that food choices have on the environment, to identify gaps in perception between consumers and food industry stakeholders.

Silk is committed to leading this movement to change the trajectory of the global food supply by driving greater reach and scale of plant-based foods, which we believe can make a positive impact on health and the planet,” says Shiesley. “But, we can’t do it alone. We encourage consumers, experts, and like-minded companies to join us in dialogue and in action to feed the world healthfully and sustainably by 2050.”