Emmanuel Faber is dedicated to revolutionizing the food industry in order to build a more sustainable planet, and as CEO of Danone, one of the world’s largest food companies, he is in a position to make this revolution a reality. Faber is asked how he reconciles the paradox of being a CEO of a food company advocating for major changes in the industry. He answers by explaining how he has never lost sight of his childhood growing up in a small village in the French Alps, and how he always bears in mind both the past and the frontiers ahead. Faber works to anticipate blind spots, and how this might mean overhauling the fundamentals of the food industry at large. He notes how people have never eaten as well or as much in the history of mankind as they do today, but in order to maintain and expand such a status, companies must consider externalities. The methods of standardization and globalization that are par for the course are going to have to shift towards more local-centric considerations if humanity is to survive and thrive.
Faber discusses external factors such as climate change, water in agriculture, and CO2 emissions, and how these things need to be considered part of the responsibility of food companies. Faber hopes to reset the model of food safety by emphasizing how standards ought to be based on the diversity of how people eat and drink around the world. There will be no singular, dominant system, because every system possesses its own individual difficulties and needs. Faber notes how the process of implementing such changes requires patience and risk, and that there are no easy returns. With the developing world entering the middle class in rapid numbers, steps must be taken to ensure that they do not implement the dietary mistakes enacted in other parts of the world. Faber recounts his time in China, where the concerning rise of nationwide BMI’s had to be curtailed by drastic measures on the part of the Chinese government, including regulation of agriculture, CO2, and water supply. The measures enacted there demonstrate that change is possible, but each region possesses different requirements. Africa and India are the most pertinent issues arising, notes Faber, in that their population will grow so rapidly, that there is no model today that will be able to provide an adequate level of food for these people. This is why the support of third party entities, including NGOs, food companies, and other governments, is absolutely essential in these regions.
The biggest changes Emmanuel Faber is trying to enact include broadening perspectives to view agriculture and food in cycles, ensuring that brands are aware of the new realities of our planet, and working with NGOs, universities, and agriculture companies to implement proper change. Faber speaks of how Danone has been dedicated to social purposes for over 40 years, and how he will continue working towards making their sustainable vision a reality.
34:27 | 2016