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Caroline Kolta: Ensuring Sustainable Food Access for Growing Populations

Caroline Kolta: Ensuring Sustainable Food Access for Growing Populations


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the changemaking leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Caroline Kolta, the director of XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world. 

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me today, Caroline! What challenge are you addressing through your program?

Caroline: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! Traditional, animal-derived food products are highly desirable to most of the world population. Did you know that, in 2020 alone, 574 million metric tons (the weight of or 50,000 Eiffel Towers) of meat, fish, dairy, and eggs were consumed?

Spiffy: Oh, wow! I had no idea—that’s a lot. 

Caroline: Indeed! The cost of meeting this high demand is environmental degradation, intensification of inhumane treatment of animals, and accelerated biodiversity loss. Consumers that follow an animal-origin diet also face food safety risks and long-term negative health impacts. My program, XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion, is a global competition offering $15 million to incentivize innovators to produce chicken breast or fish filet alternatives that replicate or outperform conventional chicken and fish offerings while avoiding the above negative impacts.

Spiffy: What motivates you to tackle this challenge?

Caroline: When you envision a better future for the world, you’re constantly considering pushing the limits of innovation and ensuring that technological advancements are reaching populations that need them the most. In my work at XPRIZE, I identify innovation gaps and set audacious yet measurable and achievable targets that attract global innovators to pursue them. While my work is very technical, it also involves building partnerships with like-minded individuals and experts from all over the world that are also working diligently to create long-lasting impact. I also work in a new and growing industry, which provides me with an opportunity to learn new things every day and keeps me motivated and curious.

Spiffy: What would you say is the impact of your work?

Caroline: My work enables the invention and scale-up needed to provide global consumers with whole-cut alternative meats that are delicious, nutritious, accessible, and respectful of animals and the environment. I also play a role in setting industry standards for technical assessment in the alternative meat space, expanding the dialogue around the regulatory landscape of alternative meat products regarding approvals, labeling, and transparency as well as raising public awareness and demystifying these novel products in the mind of general consumers. At the end of the day, the long-term goal is to ensure that growing populations have access to food sources they need to flourish while minimizing the negative impacts of producing food at scale.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Caroline—it’s been an honor!

Caroline Kolta is the Director of XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion, where she sets the overall strategy of the program’s Competition and oversees the day-to-day technical and logistical operations of the Competition, including program management, testing standards, knowledge management, and stakeholder management. (Nominated by the Ladderworks team. First published on the Ladderworks website on September 20, 2022.)

© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.