Innovations in the Food System: Exploring the Future of Food Series II

A special issue of Foods (ISSN 2304-8158). This special issue belongs to the section "Food Security and Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 March 2024) | Viewed by 10346

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Interdisciplinary Department of Medicine, University of Bari, Bari, Italy
Interests: emerging food technologies; food process scale-up; functional foods; food by-product; sustainability; circular economy; unitary operations of the gastronomic sciences
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In 2018, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) provided a definition of “food systems”, highlighting that they "encompass the entire range of actors and their interlinked value-adding activities involved in the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal of food products that originate from agriculture, forestry or fisheries, and food industries, and the broader economic, societal and natural environments in which they are embedded".

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the population to rethink their lifestyles, production, and consumption, and it has also accelerated the transformation progress necessary in light of the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015—which provides a shared blueprint for the peace and prosperity of people and the planet, now and in the future.

Actual food systems account for nearly one-third of global GHG emissions; consume large amounts of natural resources; result in biodiversity loss and negative health impacts (due to both under- and over-nutrition); and do not allow fair economic returns and livelihoods for all actors, in particular, for primary producers.

With regard to these observations, innovations should aim to develop the following food systems:

  • Inclusive: ensuring economic and social inclusion for all food system actors, especially smallholders, women, and youth;
  • Sustainable: minimizing negative environmental impacts, conserving scarce natural resources, and strengthening resiliency against future shocks;
  • Efficient: producing adequate quantities of food for global needs while minimizing postharvest loss and consumer waste;
  • Nutritious and healthy: enabling the consumption of a diverse range of healthy, nutritious, and safe foods.

These are ambitious goals that will require multidisciplinary effort—from engineering to life sciences, biotechnology, medical sciences, social sciences, and economic sciences.

New technologies and scientific discoveries are the solution to the increasing the demand for sufficient, safe, healthy, and sustainable foods influenced by the increased public awareness of their importance.

This Special Issue will focus on innovations in the food system in the following research areas:

  • Agricultural science: innovative and sustainable methods to increase the productivity and quality of agricultural and livestock products by reducing the use of natural resources and new food sources to improve the quality of life of citizens and stakeholders;
  • Food engineering and food science and technology: innovative processing plants and new technologies with the aim to develop sustainable and value-added food products (e.g., superior quality, quick to prepare, and cheap), including the valorization of by-products, shifting from a linear to a circular economy in the agrifood domain;
  • Food microbiology: microorganisms and transformations of animal and raw plant materials in edible fermented foods with high nutritional value that are rich in bioactive compounds beneficial to consumers;
  • Food chemistry: investigation into the chemical composition, nutritional value, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects of functional and novel foods due to bioactive compounds in foods, including studies of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics;
  • Nutritional science: in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo studies to ascertain the health benefits of novel ingredients, functional foods, and personalized nutrition and diets;
  • Economy and social science: economic, social, and environmental impacts of new processes, product development, and consumer behavior;
  • Food law: new policies and frameworks to ensure food safety, safeguard the environment, and protect consumers, farmers, and other food workers with the aim to prepare and serve a safe and balanced food future, in step with the changes in the world of production and consumption;
  • Food City Region and Urban Food Policy: the study of food policies in the city, forms and practices related to food from urban agriculture and new farming practices and from markets close to sale and consumption with particular emphasis on the fight against waste and waste management;
  • IoT, big data, and artificial intelligence: the role of IoT and big data analysis in agriculture (greenhouse monitoring, intelligent farm machines, and satellite and drone-based crop imaging), supply chain modernization in the food industry, food quality assessment (using spectral methods and sensor fusion), and food safety (blockchain-based digital traceability).

Authors are invited to submit original articles, reviews, and meta-analyses for inclusion in this Special Issue.

Dr. Maria Lisa Clodoveo
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Foods is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • innovative agricultural practices 
  • novel food processing technologies 
  • sustainable food chains 
  • circular economy 
  • functional foods 
  • novel foods 
  • healthy diets 
  • economic, social, and environmental impacts of new processes and products 
  • consumer behavior 
  • IoT 
  • big data and artificial intelligence in agriculture and food industry

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 2840 KiB  
Article
On Application of Lightweight Models for Rice Variety Classification and Their Potential in Edge Computing
by Muhammad Javed Iqbal, Muhammad Aasem, Iftikhar Ahmad, Madini O. Alassafi, Sheikh Tahir Bakhsh, Neelum Noreen and Ahmed Alhomoud
Foods 2023, 12(21), 3993; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12213993 - 31 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1042
Abstract
Rice is one of the fundamental food items that comes in many varieties with their associated benefits. It can be sub-categorized based on its visual features like texture, color, and shape. Using these features, the automatic classification of rice varieties has been studied [...] Read more.
Rice is one of the fundamental food items that comes in many varieties with their associated benefits. It can be sub-categorized based on its visual features like texture, color, and shape. Using these features, the automatic classification of rice varieties has been studied using various machine learning approaches for marketing and industrial use. Due to the outstanding performance of deep learning, several models have been proposed to assist in vision tasks like classification and detection. Regardless of their best results on accuracy metrics, they have been observed as overly excessive for computational resources and expert supervision. To address these challenges, this paper proposes three deep learning models that offer similar performance with 10% lighter computational overhead in comparison to existing best models. Moreover, they have been trained for end-to-end flow to demonstrate minimum expert supervision for pre-processing and feature engineering sub-tasks. The results can be observed as promising for classifying rice among five varieties, namely Arborio, Basmati, Ipsala, Jasmine, and Karacadag. The process and performance of the trained models can be extended for edge and mobile devices for field-specific tasks autonomously. Full article
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22 pages, 2527 KiB  
Article
Circular Economy in Mountain Value Chains: The Case of Three PDO Cheeses
by Kamar Habli, Diana E. Dumitras, Emilia Schmitt, Isabella Maglietti Smith and Dominique Barjolle
Foods 2023, 12(21), 3954; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12213954 - 29 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1904
Abstract
The circular economy (CE) has shown promise for achieving several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, replacing the linear system and reducing negative impacts on the environment. This research aims to assess the effective adoption of CE principles in three cheeses with geographical [...] Read more.
The circular economy (CE) has shown promise for achieving several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, replacing the linear system and reducing negative impacts on the environment. This research aims to assess the effective adoption of CE principles in three cheeses with geographical indication (GI) through an analysis of the practices identified in their respective value chains. Qualitative interviews show the persistence of historical practices that preserve the heritage behind the product, maintain autonomy in relation to external inputs and save energy or make intelligent use of by-products. Radical adoption of CE principles requires innovation to reduce the use of new inputs and greenhouse gas emissions. GI food products are generally not constrained by standards beyond those set by law, but their specifications can be modified, while respecting practices consistent with the link to the terroir. However, the remoteness of small businesses in deep rural areas, far from research centers, is slowing down the transfer of knowledge and the adoption of the latest technologies, particularly in mountainous areas. More participatory research and innovative initiatives are needed to ensure the transition to a circular economy for traditional mountain products, which are strongly linked to local culinary traditions and cultural identity. Full article
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25 pages, 1963 KiB  
Article
Exploring Sustainable Development Pathways for Agri-Food Supply Chains Empowered by Cross-Border E-Commerce Platforms: A Hybrid Grounded Theory and DEMATEL-ISM-MICMAC Approach
by Gaofeng Wang, Yanning Hou and Changhoon Shin
Foods 2023, 12(21), 3916; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12213916 - 26 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1899
Abstract
As cross-border e-commerce platforms become increasingly integrated into the agricultural supply chain, the establishment of a sustainable supply chain ecosystem is of paramount importance. This study, grounded in the platform theory and the supply chain ecosystem theory, combines the grounded theory and the [...] Read more.
As cross-border e-commerce platforms become increasingly integrated into the agricultural supply chain, the establishment of a sustainable supply chain ecosystem is of paramount importance. This study, grounded in the platform theory and the supply chain ecosystem theory, combines the grounded theory and the DEMATEL–ISM–MICMAC model to thoroughly analyze the complex mechanisms driving sustainable development. Utilizing the grounded theory, we construct a system of driving factors comprising five primary indicators and eighteen secondary indicators. The hybrid model reveals the interrelationships, significance, system hierarchy, and dependence-driving relationships among these factors. Notably, the driving factor system is categorized into a six-level hierarchical structure, encompassing profound elements, such as policy optimization and digital empowerment, as well as surface-level factors, such as simplification of customs procedures and consumer demand forecasting. Based on the analysis results, this research proposes a set of pathways to achieve the sustainability of the supply chain. These strategies involve improving cross-border agricultural e-commerce policy frameworks, enhancing digital-driven supply–demand coordination, strengthening logistics infrastructure and transparency, and cultivating brand influence. The study’s findings not only enrich the relevant theories but also provide practical guidance for the coordinated advancement of economic, social, environmental, and resilient development. Furthermore, they are conducive to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Full article
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15 pages, 709 KiB  
Article
Assessing Leadership Capacity in the Food System: The Issue Leadership Scale
by Kevan W. Lamm
Foods 2023, 12(20), 3746; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12203746 - 12 Oct 2023
Viewed by 972
Abstract
The food system represents a complex, interrelated, and interdependent network of individuals and organizations. Despite the unique characteristics of the food system domain, there has never been a comprehensive analysis of leadership capacity amongst food system professionals. The present study provides an empirical [...] Read more.
The food system represents a complex, interrelated, and interdependent network of individuals and organizations. Despite the unique characteristics of the food system domain, there has never been a comprehensive analysis of leadership capacity amongst food system professionals. The present study provides an empirical assessment of food system leadership capacity using many leadership instruments. The study included pilot (n = 125) and primary (n = 4185) data collection across 27 food system-related leadership development programs. The results validate the Issue Leadership scale, which comprises seven capacity areas: action, change, communication, critical thinking, strategic planning and visioning, interpersonal traits and characteristics, leadership process, and leadership skills. The Issue Leadership scale captures both perception of importance and current skill level. The study results indicate that food system professionals perceived communication and critical thinking, strategic planning and visioning as the most important leadership capacity areas. Furthermore, respondents indicated the highest level of self-perceived skill in critical thinking, strategic planning and visioning, and interpersonal traits and characteristics. Overall, respondents had higher perceived importance levels (m = 4.17) than skill (m = 3.44), indicating the need for additional leadership capacity development amongst food system professionals. Respondents also indicated similar levels of opinion leadership (m = 3.92), servant leadership (m = 3.82), transformational leadership (m = 3.78), and transactional leadership (m = 3.70), providing an additional empirical assessment of food system professional leadership capacity. Full article
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19 pages, 4705 KiB  
Article
The Impact of Social Well-Being on Population Diet Nutritional Value and Antiradical Status
by Victor Gorbachev, Igor Nikitin, Daria Velina, Natalia Zhuchenko, Alexander N. Kosenkov, Andrey Sokolov, Igor Zavalishin, Alla Stolyarova and Evgeny Nikulchev
Foods 2023, 12(13), 2619; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12132619 - 6 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1597
Abstract
The paper presents the result of assessing the antiradical status of consumers (in the context of Russia) in connection with their well-being. This approach is based on a multistage study, in which the results of sociological surveys were applied, as well as estimates [...] Read more.
The paper presents the result of assessing the antiradical status of consumers (in the context of Russia) in connection with their well-being. This approach is based on a multistage study, in which the results of sociological surveys were applied, as well as estimates of the antiradical potential (ARP) of diets obtained using neural networks, bootstrapping the chemical composition of diets, and calculating reference values using mathematical models. The paper presents data collected from residents living in the territories of at least 21 regions and cities of Russia: Magadan, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Krasnodar, Lipetsk, Vladivostok, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Voronezh, etc. A total of 1001 people were interviewed, which, according to our calculations, gives a margin of error in value of approximately 3.1%. To calculate the lack of vitamins in the diets of residents of the Russian Federation, data on the chemical composition of food products from the FNDDS database were used. The assessment of dietary habits showed a lack of vitamins below the recommended level in 73% of Russians for vitamin D, 59% for retinol, 38% for β-carotenes, 13% for vitamin E, and 6% for ascorbic acid. The study showed that at least 36% of the Russian population has a low antiradical status, while it was found that “poor” consumers are more likely to consume economically more expensive foods (in terms of their nutritional value). The “poor” segments of the population consume 180–305% more canned food and 38–68% more sweet carbonated drinks than other social groups, but their consumption of vegetables is 23–48% lower. On the contrary, “wealthy” consumers consume 17–25% more complex (varied) dishes, 10–68% more fresh vegetables, and 8–39% more fish. From the obtained values it follows that consumers with low levels of ARP in their diets are in a group with an increased probability of a number of “excess” diseases (diseases of the cardiovascular system, obesity, etc.). In general, the ARP values of food consumed for low-income segments of the population were 2.3 times lower (the ratio was calculated as the percentage of consumers below the level of 11,067 equivalents necessary for the disposal of free radicals generated in the human body per day) than for those who can afford expensive food (consumers with high income). A simple increase in consumption of unbalanced foods, in our opinion, will only contribute to the entry of these consumers into the “average diet trap”. All this makes it imperative to develop comprehensive measures to create a new concept of public catering; otherwise, we can expect a reduction in both the health of the population and the performance of the economy of the whole country. Full article
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13 pages, 906 KiB  
Article
A Correlational Study of Two U.S. State Extension Professionals’ Behavioral Intentions to Improve Sustainable Food Chains through Precision Farming Practices
by Chin-Ling Lee, Robert Strong, Gary Briers, Theresa Murphrey, Nithya Rajan and Shelli Rampold
Foods 2023, 12(11), 2208; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12112208 - 31 May 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2099
Abstract
Precision farming provides one of the most important solutions for managing agricultural production to advance global food security. Extending professionals’ competencies to promote precision farming practices can increase the adoption rate, ultimately impacting food security. Many studies have addressed barriers to the adoption [...] Read more.
Precision farming provides one of the most important solutions for managing agricultural production to advance global food security. Extending professionals’ competencies to promote precision farming practices can increase the adoption rate, ultimately impacting food security. Many studies have addressed barriers to the adoption of precision farming technologies from the farmers’ perspective. However, few are available data on the perspectives of extension professionals. Agricultural extension professionals play an important role in innovative agricultural technology adoption. Thus, this study applied four constructs from the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT) model to investigate behavioral intentions to promote precision farming among extension professionals from two extension systems. In total, 102 (N = 102) agricultural extension professionals were surveyed. The results indicated that performance expectancy and social influence were individually significant predictors of extension professional behavioral intentions to promote precision farming technologies. There were no significant differences between the professionals of two extension systems. Gender, age, and years of service did not affect extension professionals’ intention to promote precision agriculture technologies. The data suggested the need for training programs to develop advanced competencies to promote agricultural innovation. This study contributes to the future professional development programs for extension professionals on communicating innovations to address food security and sustainability issues. Full article
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