Sustainable Nutrition Initiative (SNi)

The Sustainable Nutrition Initiative aims to create a better understanding of the food system and opportunities for improvement in order to sustainably feed the global population with the nutrients required.

The Sustainable Nutrition Initiative team includes food scientists, nutrition scientists and mathematical modellers. SNI has developed a modelling approach to test various scenarios for globally sustainable future food systems; the DELTA Model. It also produces scientific articles on food system sustainability and provides commentary on food system sustainability research.

What is SNi?

The global food system is complex, heterogeneous and involves multiple inputs, outputs and feedback loops. Understanding it and identifying opportunities for improvement requires a comprehensive view of the whole system, including its socio-economic and environmental dimensions.

Before we know what to think about changes to make to our diets or food supply, we need to first determine how to think about the food system:

  • Under what scenarios is it POSSIBLE for the global food system to provide the bioavailable nutrients to feed the global population?
  • What scenarios are PRACTICAL to deliver, for example in terms of level of change required, cost of that change or affordability of food?
  • What is the most OPTIMAL way to deliver a sustainable food system?

To improve understanding of sustainable nutrition, SNI release SNIppets which provide brief descriptions of new developments in the field.

SNI also produce longer Thoughts for Food articles that take a closer look at important aspects of the global food system and human nutrition.

Project Leader: Professor Warren McNabb
Team: Dr Nick Smith, Dr Andrew Fletcher
Professor Jeremy Hill


The DELTA Model is a global food system mass balance that uses information about current production of major food items to predict the nutrition available to the average global citizen both now and in the future.

A challenge we face is our ability to sustainably nourish an increasing global population without exceeding the capacity of the planet. There are many different ways of approaching how we might achieve this, and many suggestions for what the answer may be.

The DELTA Model has been developed to help people explore this challenge themselves by manipulating the major components of the food system to see the impact on the supply of key nutrients.
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