Global food experts discuss soil fertility, carbon management, regulatory framework, and sustainable food production as focal points for the food industry as a whole.
July 2, 2015
by Canadian Packaging staff
The food industry needs to take greater steps towards sustainable development—one of the key messages from the Sustainable Foods Summit 2015, hosted in Amsterdam on June 4-5, 2015, also citing soil fertility, carbon management, regulatory framework, and sustainable food production as major areas of concern.
Organized by Organic Monitor—a specialist research, consulting and training company that focuses on the global organic and related product industries—the aim of the Sustainable Foods Summit is to explore new horizons for eco-labels and sustainability in the food industry by discussing key industry issues in a high level forum.
The importance of soil fertility for sustainability was expressed by Wageningen University professor Pablo Tittonell, who showed how soil fertility has a direct impact on plant and animal health. He called for sustainable farming practices to improve nutrient quality in soil. A similar message was echoed by Tobias Bandel from Soil & More: improved soil structure produces lower water footprint, greater nutrient quality, as well as carbon sequestration.
Dominic Watkins from DWF highlighted the regulatory uncertainty in the European food industry. With fears of a Grexit (Greece exit) and the U.K. holding an in-out referendum, it was not clear what the E.U. would look like in a few years, let alone the regulatory landscape. He believes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could escalate food trade between the U.S. and E.U. However, a major challenge is harmonization since there was ‘a huge chasm’ in regulations between the two sides.
According to Wessanen, the future of the food industry lies with sustainable foods. By the use of food pyramids, Laurence Beck showed how the healthiest food has the lowest environmental impact. She stated the strategy of her company was to focus on organic and health foods. As part of this strategy, it had acquired Clipper, Alter Eco and Isola Bio in recent years, and was looking for similar such companies.
The food industry needs to act if it is to avert a carbon crisis. This was the message from Craig Sams, founder and president of Green & Black’s, in his keynote. He said 125 million hectares of fertile soil is lost each year. He believes carbon pricing is inevitable if we are to maintain agricultural land.
In another seminar on mainstream distribution, Sams shared his experiences in developing the Whole Earth and Green & Black’s brands. He called the Whole Earth a ‘campaigning brand’ that appealed to green consumers, whilst Green & Black’s was positioned as an ethical chocolate. In another paper, Coop Denmark showed how private labels can be successful with sustainable products; its Anglamark private label is recognized by 70 per cent of Danish consumers. Apart from organic foods, it represents natural baby care products, personal care products and home care products.
The complexities of sustainable packaging were also debated. University of Twente professor Roland Ten Klooster states the difficulties in coming up with the ideal ‘green packaging’. He encouraged brands to put design at the heart of packaging decisions. Andy Sweetman from Innovia gave an overview of the growing range of bioplastic options for food and beverage products. The raw chocolate brand LoveChock shared its experiences in adopting sustainable packaging solutions. It is using cellulose films and origami-style packaging for its chocolates.
This 7th European edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit brought together over 130 senior executives from the food industry. Sustainability discussions will continue in 2016 with the North American (January 20-21, San Francisco), European (June, Amsterdam) and Latin American (June, São Paulo) editions.
The proceedings of the 7th European edition (Amsterdam, June 4-5) are available for a professional fee. More information is available from www.sustainablefoodssummit.com, or visit www.organicmonitor.com.