Riding the momentum of the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), first of its kind to be dedicated entirely to discussing how to achieve sustainable food systems, the 2021 edition of the Future of Food Conference took place at a very momentous juncture.
With over 750 participants from 85 countries and a line-up of 74 speakers representing all segments of the food value chain, the Conference provided a high-level platform for discussing the most relevant trends in EU agrifood innovation and its potential to deliver on the transformation of the EU’s food system towards a more sustainable and inclusive dimension.
The morning of Day 1 was dedicated to the “Change-makers Summit”, taking stock of the outcomes of the Summit to chart pathways for the transformation of the EU’s food system, in line with the objectives of the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals. It also featured a panel of Generation-Z representatives, the FutureFoodMakers, who presented a Manifesto with their demands to improve the food system and a set of concrete proposals to achieve the objectives they set, engaging policymakers and industry representatives in a discussion on the change they want to see, and on how to make it happen.
In the afternoon of Day 1, five breakout sessions tackled a selection of important innovation-related challenges in the transformation of the food system: sustainable food labelling, regenerative agriculture, circular food systems, the sustainability of the HoReCa sector, and personalised and targeted nutrition.
The sessions that took place in the morning of Day 2 of the Conference revolved around building an inclusive food system. Opening the day was a discussion on consumer information, hinging on the interesting conclusions of a study comparing the reactions of two groups of citizens: one being exposed first to the documentary “Seaspiracy”, and then to more nuanced information on the same topics from EIT Food’s consumer-facing platform, Food Unfolded®; the other being exposed to the two in reverse order. The following sessions addressed other facets of inclusive food systems, from the need to remove the current barriers faced by women in agrifood innovation, to the importance of vocational education and training in the agrifood sector, to the need for a framework connecting the skills needed in a transformed food system to changing workplace practices for societal impact.
Closing the Conference, the afternoon of Day 2 was dedicated to the topic of impact investment, and how investors can enable the emergence of innovative solutions that concretely enable the transition. After a presentation of EIT Food’s Entrepreneurship and Investment programme, the final session zoomed in on the highly topical issue of protein diversification, and on the barriers to acceleration and upscaling encountered by innovative businesses producing alternative protein products.
Conference opening speeches
- Welcome address by EIT Food CEO, Andy Zynga
- Keynote speech by EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Janus Wojciechowski
- Keynote interview with Slovenian Minister Slovenian Minister of Agriculture, on behalf of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, Jože Podgoršek
- Keynote interview with Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the UN Food Systems Summit, Agnes Kalibata
- Keynote interview with UN Assistant Secretary-General, Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement and Member of the Advisory Committee for the 2021 Food Systems Summit, Gerda Verburg
Plenary Session | From commitment to action: innovation as a driver of societal impact
Plenary Session | The Menu for Change: Where do we need to be one generation from now? – Interview with Generation-Z representatives and reactions from policy and industry
Innovation challenges in the transformation of the food system
Breakout Session 1 | Sustainable food labelling
Breakout Session 2 | Soil purpose: tackling the regenerative transition
Breakout Session 3 | The future of the HoReCa sector
Breakout Session 4 | Targeted nutrition
Breakout Session 5 | Circular food systems
Building an inclusive food system
Plenary Session | Consumer information: the fine line between accuracy and engagement
Plenary Session | Implementing a skills agenda to achieve food system transformation
Breakout Session 1 | Bridging the gender gap: “innovating innovation” in the agrifood sector
Breakout Session 2 | How skills drive the transformation of the food system
Investing in impactful solutions
Opening keynote address | Investing in the future of food to generate impact and Plenary Session | EIT Food’s Entrepreneurship and investment programme
Plenary Session | Protein diversification: challenges and opportunities to scale-up impactful solutions in Europe