Recap from Global Food Talk “Powering sustainable agri-food systems with plant-based products and solutions”
In connection with Plant Based World Expo Europe, Food Nation hosted a Global Food Talk on November 30 with Lara Pappers, Programme Development Manager, Jeremy Coller Foundation as keynote speaker. The Global Food Talk focused on how the plant-based sector contribute to innovation, product development, and healthy, sustainable food systems.
The world’s population is projected to reach 10 billion in 2050. One of our greatest challenges will be to feed everyone with safe, sustainable, and nutritious food that is produced, consumed, and recycled in a responsible way. While there is not just one right path toward sustainable agri-food system transformation, the developments and innovations happening in the plant-based sector these days may be a game changer at a national, regional, and global level.
The growth potential of alternative proteins
The keynote speaker Lara Pappers, Programme Development Manager, Jeremy Coller Foundation started out by highlighting that our current food system is creating major health issues and is one of the main causes of the climate crisis. According to Climate Action tracker, she stated that the current policies presently in place around the world are projected to result in about 2.7°C warming above pre-industrial levels in 2100. It is in light of this that the plant-based sector offers a solution, and this has not gone unnoticed by investors.
A new report by the UK government predicts that alternative proteins will add $1.1 trillion to the global economy and create 9.8 million good-paying jobs by 2050. For the plant-based sector to accelerate, more R&D funding is needed. Only five years ago, public funding for alternative protein R&D was close to zero. Today, the total exceeds $300 million from more than a dozen countries, plus additional hundreds of millions of dollars in government investments in and incentives for alternative protein companies.
Action across the value chain
Dan Crossley, Executive Director, the Food Ethics Council and Esben Egede Rasmussen, Minister Counsellor for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Embassy of Denmark in the United Kingdom who participated in the first fireside session underlined the importance of a common goal across governments, companies and other actors in the food system, where Dan especially said that we need to avoid putting too much responsibility on the consumer, as change needs to come from producers too.
When talking about product innovation and -development we need high sensory quality. Nutritional value is very important, and we need to make sure that we have proper diets, and therefore it was also mentioned that we should not get too hung up on innovation because we also need to keep eating pulses and vegetables as they are.
Get out there and make a change
David Erlandsson, Co-founder & sales director, Aliga Microalgae who participated in the second fireside session with Mette Skau Mikkelsen, Principal Scientist – Plant-based Foods Initiative Driver, FOSS also see a growing interest from investors and government subsidies compared to just a few years ago. For David and Aliga Microalgae these funds have been essential and are needed to support the whole industry. But the companies must make sure that the starting point is right, in order to secure good quality and functionality of the end product. In the end, they both shared the same advice which is not to be afraid to take the first mover role and don’t wait for things to change – be the change.