A closer look at food related issues
Worldwide several food related issues draw our attention, like feeding the world’s growing population, the contribution of the food system to global warming and the claim on natural resources, such as fossil fuels and fertile agricultural land. A big challenge is to make food production and consumption both healthier and more sustainable. However, this is very complex, since there are many constraints, which need to be taken into account. Companies are challenged to develop products with low environmental impacts and a high nutritional value that deserve a place in sustainable diets. In this process solid data and research are key. Optimeal® is a useful tool to enable this. The programme offers the opportunity to calculate both nutritional and environmental aspects of diets and to optimize them. The programme searches for solutions which have as few changes as possible relative to the current diet.
Applications of Optimeal
Over the last years Optimeal® has been used to analyse various food related issues. An example is the application by Voedingscentrum and RIVM to translate the ‘Richtlijnen Goede Voeding’ of the Gezondheidsraad (National Health Council) into practical recommendations for various consumer groups. In 2015 Blonk Consultants calculated the Menu of Tomorrow for Natuur & Milieu (a Dutch NGO). The result: a realistic diet for 2030 with 45% less greenhouse gas emissions.
Optimeal® 2.0: new features
The newest version of Optimeal® offers some additional features to define healthy and sustainable diets. The new features at a glance:
Linear Programming and Quadratic Programming
Optimeal 2.0 has two optimisation techniques: next to Linear Programming now also Quadratric programming. This means that changes in diets will be more gradual. In most cases this will lead to more realistic and feasible solutions.
Data accessible in Excel
The user can access the data in Excel. This means that the user can add, delete and change products easily. Furthermore, products can be tailored to the preferences of the user. For instance, in categories which fit into the ‘Richtlijnen Goede Voeding 2015 ’ (Guidelines by the national Health Council), like sweetened drinks and wholegrain products.
Series of optimizations
Within Optimeal® 2.0 it is now possible to run a series of optimizations at once, in which one property is varied in discrete steps. The user can choose the start and end values and the step size. The feature is useful to analyse which changes in a diet are needed when you aim to lower the greenhouse gas emissions in steps. Besides that, you can analyse how bread can to be substituted when the consumption diminishes for instance.