Sustainable Foods Summit: The Need to Look Beyond Environmental Impacts

Tuesday 25. April 2017 - When approaching sustainability, the focus of most food and beverage companies is on reducing environmental footprints. How can they go beyond incremental reductions and create positive impacts? How can the social impacts of foods be improved? How can customer value be augmented by sustainable production methods? Such questions will be addressed in the upcoming Sustainable Foods Summit ( Hosted in Amsterdam on 1-2nd June, the European edition will hone in on social & customer impacts, sustainable ingredients, and marketing best-practices.

The environmental visionary Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart will kick off the summit with a keynote on re-thinking traditional approaches to sustainability. In his keynote, Braungart will urge the food industry to move beyond ‘efficiency thinking’ and consider eco-effectiveness. He will encourage the use of the Cradle-To-Cradle design approach so products are designed with closed loops and material nutrients are recycled. According to Braungart, this approach can give food and beverage firms beneficial footprints.
Adrien de Groot Ruiz, Executive Director of True Price, will give some insights into the hidden costs of food and agricultural products. He will make the case for a true cost accounting approach by factoring in externalities of food production. Soil & More will also present some of its findings on true costs which incorporate natural capital and social capital. Jessica Sansom from Innocent Drinks will share the company’s sustainability journey: how is it addressing its impacts, and what role do metrics play?
The Sustainable Ingredients session will give an update on raw materials. Cees de Jong, President and CEO of Chr. Hansen, will highlight the issues when measuring the environmental footprint of food ingredients. Another speaker will discuss the growing use of byproducts as a source of food ingredients. Givaudan will highlight developments in natural flavourings, whilst Diana Visser from Corbion will tackle the issues when re- formulating using bio-based ingredients.
With a growing number of companies getting lost in the maze of sustainability schemes, Olam international will share its experiences. Organic, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, CAFÉ, RSPO, are just some of the standards adopted by the international ingredients firm. The session ends with featured speakers debating the value of sustainability schemes: although positive in providing third party standards, some argue they are becoming an auditing nightmare for international firms.

To open day two of the summit, Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD, will highlight the role of smallholdings in the food industry. Accounting for 60% of global agriculture, he will make the case to protect and encourage smallholdings for sustainability. Delia Garcia Gomez from the department store chain El Corte Inglés will share its experiences in tackling sustainability. How important are eco-labeled foods in its sustainability strategy? Another retailer will give insights into how it has developed and marketing climate-friendly foods and beverages. Other papers will cover ethical private labels, marketing claims & regulations, and smart packaging for sustainability.
The final session discusses approaches to improve the social and customer value of food products. Veronica Rubio from the Foreign Trade Association will outline the social risks in food supply chains, as well as give guidance on how to mitigate such risks. Bert Jongsma from Fair Trade Original will show how its fairtrade sourcing practices are improving the lives of producers in Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Slow Food will share its experiences in customer engagement, whilst Monica Marez from the Organic Trade Association will highlight the social value created by organic agriculture.
The ninth European edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit aims to encourage food and ingredient firms to take a broader and more holistic approach to sustainability. Comments Amarjit Sahota from Ecovia Intelligence (organiser of the summit): “The food industry has invested considerably to reduce its greenhouse houses, improve water & resource efficiency and waste management. However, food production is also intricately linked to social issues, such as food poverty, security, employment, as well as our general health and well-being. We want to highlight the importance of such issues at this summit.”
About the Sustainable Foods Summit
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 European edition will be hosted at the Mövenpick hotel in Amsterdam on 1-2nd June 2017. Other editions will take place in Latin America (18-19 September), Asia-Pacific (29-30 November), and North America (January 2018).
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