The application process
What do I commit to by joining the Challenge?
At this stage, apply to join us on the learning journey - it is not a requirement of your application that you submit a product design idea for scoring, though we hope to have inspired you to do so.
In other words, access to the Challenge’s design phase is not conditional on submitting a product design idea or having a product ready for manufacturing within the Challenge period. You can join the Challenge to learn, innovate, and test ideas at pace.
Towards the end of the design phase (October 2023) you are encouraged to submit a product design idea. Organisations that submit a successful product design idea will be invited into the second year of the Challenge, commencing in 2024 and focused on showcasing the product journey and moving towards retail placement.
Does my organisation have to pay to join the Challenge?
No. The only requirement is that you sign the Challenge Terms & Conditions that are linked within the application form.
Are there any restrictions on entry?
We are aiming to make the Challenge as accessible as possible for food businesses, big and small. You can apply from anywhere in the world to join the Challenge.
I am part of an organisation that contains multiple brands, who should sign to join?
We will accept applications from both umbrella organisations and brands so you can apply in the way that best fits your organisational context.
How many teams can join from my organisation?
Any brand within an organisation can submit five product design ideas, so multiple sign ups from your organisation are possible. We encourage you to build a cohort of Challenge participants within your organisation.
What IT systems will I have to use?
The Challenge journey will make use of the following IT systems:
The learning community will be hosted within a MightyNetworks platform, and information related to the Challenge will be held there. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has successfully used this platform to build communities previously. https://www.mightynetworks.com/.
Webinars will run over Zoom https://zoom.us/
HowGood’s Latis platform will be used to support product ideation and, at the point of product design idea submission, for sharing information to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation judging panel. This does not require the full product recipe to be shared. www.howgood.com
Product and ingredient eligibility
Is there a restriction on the number of products I can enter?
Each participant organisation can submit five product design ideas for scoring during the design phase.
Can I enter with an existing product/ new product/ renovation?
Yes – you’ll learn more about what we’re looking for and our scoring approach during the design phase. We really encourage re-design of existing products but understand that this is not possible in certain cases, so are also interested in new and existing products if you believe they showcase circular design.
Do you only want plant-based products?
No, we are looking for a variety of food types that demonstrate circular design for food. So while we hope to see lots of great ideas around how we might reduce animal products in our diets, we also encourage brilliantly designed products that utilise the key role of animals in regenerative systems.
Can I include seafood in my product?
Yes, we would love to see seafood products within this Challenge.
Can I submit an alcoholic product?
Yes, alcoholic products are eligible to join.
Can I submit a pet food product?
Yes, we would love to see pet food products within this Challenge.
Can my product incorporate ingredients from novel technologies?
Yes, if they encourage a systems approach. We are looking for production systems that achieve multiple positive synergies, promote diversity, adapt to local contexts, and directly or indirectly regenerate soils and wildlife. Siloed solutions, which encourage specialisation and standardisation, and are very reliant on theoretical arguments around spared land for nature, won’t score well.
Can I enter the Challenge with fresh produce?
Sadly not. We love our produce fresh, and while the principles of circular design for food can be applied to fresh produce, as outlined in the Big Food Redesign study, in this Challenge we are focussing on inspirational product design.
Multiple ingredient products create more space to demonstrate the use of the circular design for food framework and are often those that need the greatest attention. However, if you have a design concept with fewer than three ingredients that you think is an inspirational way of how the circular design for food framework can improve foods – then do get in touch with us. For example, this could be an innovative use of a wholefood in place of what would normally be constituent ingredients (e.g. using a whole cocoa fruit to make chocolate).
Who can get involved
What type of organisations can join the Challenge?
The Challenge pathway is designed for food businesses, large and small, and for retailers. If your business does not sit in these categories you can still apply the Circular Design for Food framework, as outlined in The big food redesign.
I am a retailer, how can I get involved?
There are two ways – you can join as a participant with your in-house products; or you can support the Challenge as a potential retail outlet. We’d love to hear from you.
You can email us at email@example.com.
I am a farmer or producer, how can I get involved?
Food businesses taking part in the Challenge will seek to connect with farmers, growers and suppliers who are prioritising outcomes for nature, whether by adopting agro-ecology, agroforestry, conservation agriculture, or other approaches that support regenerative outcomes for nature. If you are applying these approaches we encourage you to register on the HowGood platform so that you can be identified by Challenge participants.
I am an SME — will there be any additional support available to me?
If you’re an SME and are invited into the production phase of the Challenge, you may also be invited to apply for a financial grant to support you on your journey towards making food designed for nature the norm. You’ll find out more about this opportunity during the design phase.
Who should get involved from my organisation?
As the creation of a food product (including its packaging) involves many teams across organisations, those who may benefit from getting involved in the Food Challenge on behalf of their organisation include:
NPD (New product development) teams
Ethics and sustainability teams
Once your organisation has been accepted into the design phase, the person who made the application will be able to share access to the Challenge Platform and webinar series.
The Challenge, Circular Design for Food, and a circular economy
What is the Big Food Redesign Challenge?
The Challenge aims to catalyse and inspire the food industry to produce food that helps nature to thrive. By applying the principles of circular design, participants will explore the potential of our food to regenerate nature, tackle biodiversity loss, and address climate change. The Challenge will celebrate and showcase successful food products that have been created using circular design principles. By the end of the Challenge, in 2024, we aim to have uncovered pathways to success for businesses to embrace circular food design.
What is circular design and how does it apply to food?
Food design shapes what we eat, which ingredients are grown, and how they’re produced. Design decisions impact the concept, taste, texture, price, nutritional status, and packaging. Circular design for food is about rethinking product concepts, ingredient selection and sourcing, and packaging and putting nature at the heart of these decisions. It’s about developing food products that regenerate nature, restore biodiversity, enhance soil health, and prevent waste. It can also help us tackle climate change and pollution.
How does food fit into the circular economy?
Circular design is the starting point for the circular economy, which is a system where products and materials are designed to be circulated, thereby eradicating waste and pollution and regenerating nature. It’s inspired by our natural world – in nature, there is no waste, everything is part of an interconnected cycle that constantly regenerates.
Food is part of this system. But we have disturbed its natural cycle. Industrial farming has turned agriculture into a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. On top of this, we waste almost a third of the food we produce, while nearly 10% of the world’s population goes hungry.
Bringing food into the circular economy means we can restore nature’s cycle, which in turn helps biodiversity to flourish, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.
Why is biodiversity so important?
When we talk about biodiversity, we’re referring to all the different plants and animals – including us humans – working together to maintain a healthy balance that supports life on our planet. In short, it’s fundamental to our existence. Biodiversity provides us with the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the medicines we take, the materials we use to make stuff and many more things that are essential to making life possible and worth living.
How is our food system linked to climate change?
Our food system is responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Over 70% of those emissions come from agriculture and how we use the land, with the rest coming from further down the supply chain, such as transportation, retail, waste management, processing etc. If we shift to regenerative agricultural production practices, eliminate food waste, and use lower-impact or upcycled ingredients, we could halve emissions from our food system by 2050.
What can we, as shoppers, do to help nature thrive?
We see a future where when you shop there are no bad choices. Sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on the Challenge and be the first to know when the products hit the shelves. In the meantime there are a few actions you can take:
whenever you can, choose products that use regeneratively-grown ingredients, that make use of by-products or ‘upcycled’ ingredients, or that use lesser-known varieties of grains, fruit and vegetables.
think about buying locally grown, seasonal produce if possible.
limit your food waste, from both packaging and leftovers – and recycle appropriately, you could even get a composter.
What are businesses currently doing to support nature?
Right now, not enough – that’s why we’ve initiated the Big Food Redesign Challenge, to inspire them to develop foods that support nature to thrive. On a smaller scale, we are seeing more companies source ingredients from regenerative farm systems – which help support biodiversity – as well as looking at using by-products from other industries as ingredients and switching their packaging away from plastic to biodegradable materials. We hope this Challenge will inspire the wider food industry to develop ambitious action plans that place nature at the heart of food product design.