The winners of this year’s Arrell Global Food Innovation Awards are trailblazing new opportunities to provide sustainable, nutritious food to the world, growing connections across communities, and innovating to improve our food systems from production to consumption.
Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Arrell Global Food Innovation Awards. Awarded annually since 2018, two prizes of $100,000 are given to global recipients to recognize their impact and leadership in two categories: research innovation and community engagement innovation. For the 2023 Awards round, prize funds were split in the research innovation category to reward two deserving winners.
Community Engagement Innovation
Câm Dairy Foods
Câm Dairy Foods, winner of the community engagement award, is creating an innovative system in Nigeria that connects rural and marginalized pastoralists who raise cattle with young entrepreneurs in their communities. Entrepreneurs purchase and collect milk from pastoralists on behalf of Câm, which is then aggregated and processed to create nutritious dairy products.
This system provides steady and reliable income for both the pastoralists, who have historically had limited access to markets and unreliable income streams, and the entrepreneurs, who gain employable skills and access a stable job. This system also strengthens food security in the region – providing nutrient-dense dairy products to a population that struggles with poverty and malnutrition and helping to build Nigeria’s dairy industry.
Aisha Bashir, Câm’s CEO, says “Nigeria has the fifth largest cattle population in Africa, and pastoralists are the most vulnerable, the poorest of the population in Nigeria. We’ve created an opportunity where something [they] already own can now generate an income, and we’re offering a fixed price for the milk – that makes it equal opportunity for everyone, especially for women.”
Research award winner Sara Bonham – an alumnus of the University of Guelph – is a pioneer and food innovator who focuses on developing plant foods for healthy aging. During the height of the pandemic, she launched a novel, all-in-one nutritional beverage that supported gut and brain health for seniors – a highly vulnerable population. Other notable innovations in her career have included the development of a non-dairy milk from sustainable alternatives with the same nutrition and taste as cow’s milk and a plant-based agricultural polymer that degraded with sunlight and oxygen (a sustainable alternative to plastics). In her newest focus, Sweet Health LLC., she consults and creates products for ‘family first’ nutrition; utilizing fiber and upcycled (novel) ingredients.
Sara’s pioneering work in the food innovation space supports functional health and nutrition for seniors, children, and individuals with dairy intolerance. Her focus on creating sustainable, plant-based products and reducing food waste has had significant environmental benefit. “I think deeply about how to solve everyday consumer problems and create novel solutions – ones that not just taste delicious but have a clinical efficacy and use functional ingredients; while improving planetary health outcomes,” said Sara.
Ukraine is one of the world’s top 10 agricultural producers and exporters, responsible for feeding a massive local and global population. When Russia invaded in 2022, there were significant impacts on food production – crops were destroyed, farmers were killed or displaced, and input prices skyrocketed. Farmers and producers weren’t able to move their goods due to blockades and storage facilities were destroyed.
The Ukrainian government needed to understand exactly how this conflict has impacted food production and distribution across the country. The NASA Harvest team – winner of the Arrell research award – pioneered the use of satellite-based imaging to monitor crop production in free-Ukraine and Russian-occupied territories – translating that information into evidence-based products for the government to use in their decision-making.
NASA Harvest results found that more cropland than initially expected was planted and harvested – welcome news for the global food system (which depends on Ukrainian exports), and a key finding to help mitigate price volatility and uncertainty in the market.
“We had the tools to be able to understand what the implications [of the war] were going to be for both global food production, as Ukraine is an important food exporter, but also internally for Ukraine in terms of damage and loss,” said Inbal Becker-Reshef, Program Director of NASA Harvest. “[Our work helped] bridge the gap – translating innovative science so that it can be used for making decisions, and ensuring that the science is driven by a real need.”
Congratulations to all award winners!
“I’m so impressed by these winners. Whether it is tracking land use in war zones, co-developing the economic livelihood of pastoralists in Nigeria, or creating new plant-based protein options, these individuals and groups are contributors to a sustainable, healthful, and just food system,” said Dr. Evan Fraser, Arrell Food Institute director. “The adjudicators were impressed by the caliber of applications from right across the world and chose these worthy winners”.
The Arrell Global Food Innovation Awards are adjudicated by scientists and community activists from all over the world. This year’s adjudicators are:
- Jennifer Grenz, Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia
- Jessica Fanzo, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Global Food Policy and Ethics, Johns Hopkins University
About Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph
Arrell Food Institute brings people together to conduct research, train the next generation of food leaders and shape social, industrial, and governmental decisions, always ensuring food is the central priority.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.