Ahead of the Future of Food Conference in Brussels this year, we invited four food systems transformation experts to lead a lively discussion on X (formerly Twitter), asking our online community to share questions and exchange views on some of the most critical topics related to the future of food in Europe.
Our group of expert moderators and their discussion topics included:
Trust and Transparency led by Cortney Price, Lead for Behavioural Science, Food and Agriculture Organisations
Food Security led by Mark Driscoll, Founder & Director, Tasting the Future
Policy and Regulation led by Els Bedert, Director, Product and Sustainability at EuroCommerce
Technology and Innovation led by Robert Jones, VP Public Affairs, Mosa Meat and President, Cellular Agriculture Europe
Over the course of 60 minutes we saw a mix of journalists, changemakers, MEPs, and food systems thought leaders join us to exchange views on topics critical to the future of food conversation, including how to best tackle meat consumption, what data we must include on food packaging, what role trust plays on consumer choice, and in which areas further innovation is critical to truly drive food systems transformation forward in the EU, among others.
See below for a recap of some of our favourite questions and discussion points on the future of food:
Trust and transparency
Cortney Price started things off by responding to how the retail sector imagines the future of food and what policies they would want to see in place to protect the consumer and ensure health and fair access to food. He pointed out the changes we expect to see in population growth and urbanisation:
Drawing on his knowledge of behavioural science, Cortney also highlighted the link between consumer food choices and their overall trust in the food system:
"Building trust with consumers is tricky, but we can look to our own personal relationships for guidance. Authority (top-down messaging) may back fire in post-trust societies or be watered down by our now near-infinite and diverse information sources... #FutureFood23”
#SocialProof is important > do others like me confirm what I'm being told? And above all can food system actors express empathy with the many pain points faced by consumers on a daily level? These can and other psychological/social constructs can help #FutureFood23”
The topic of reducing meat consumption was explored when a question came in asking what the number one #ActionOnFood should be in Europe. Our moderators Mark Driscoll, Robert Jones and Cortney Price agreed that reducing meat in our diets would create a healthier and more sustainable food system. It is a low hanging fruit for combating climate change, and meat should not be demonised as many cultures rely on it for their livelihoods.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its impact on food security was another topic of discussion, pointing out that unequal distribution has more impact on food insecurity than a shortage of supply.
Both Mark and Cortney agreed on another topic – using a reference diet as guidance for food labelling – but both pointed out the need for a tailored approach that needs more research.
Policy and regulation
Els Bedert then took over to lead the topic of food policy and regulation in Europe. Introducing the topic she said:
Els highlighted a range of key actions she believes are needed to improve food policy, including:
Digitalisation of food labels to provide more information
Cooperation in the supply chain to agree on definitions, criteria and principles of sustainable food systems
The need to maintain consumer choice
Informing and supporting consumers to choose healthily.
Technology and innovation
Robert Jones answered questions on food innovation and technology highlighting the need for more innovation in this industry – something he himself is trying to achieve through his food technology business, Mosa Meat.
When asked whether Europe was on the right track when it comes to innovation, he said:
“We are on that track, but creating new foods is only one step. People need to trust them and enjoy them too! More funding is needed to speed up innovation to meet our environmental targets and ensuring people trust the food they’re eating. #FutureFood23"