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SFI Inspirational Session 'Sustainable Agri-Food Chains’

Meeting Report18-06-2022

On the 9th of June 2022, the Sustainable Food Initiative (SFI) hosted an inspirational session on the topic of Sustainable Agro-Food Chains. Three speakers shared their visions within this context, as well as discussed with the audience and each other in a panel discussion. The session was moderated by Kees de Gooijer (Chief Inspiration Officer for TKI Agri&Food, TKI Biobased Economy), took place at Unilever Foods Innovation Centre - HIVE and was live broadcasted via youtube.

Petra Berkhout  (senior researcher at Wageningen Economic Research) shared on the topic of 'Pennywise, poundfoolish - On the importance of real prices to promote sustainability in agri-food chains.' Sustainbility is an important but also diffcult issue to define with many trade-offs. However, science is clear about the two most urgent trends that need to be tackled: the loss of biodiversity through the increase of land use for agriculture and the need to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses. Food prices should reflect the real prices of production incorporating the negative external effects of food production. 

Niko Koffeman (Co-Founder of Those Vegan Cowboys) told the story of Those Vegan Cowboys: From Grass to Glass without the Cow. TVC are working in a milk brewery. Dairy products have a huge market. Nevertheless, dairy has a huge environmental impact. For TVC the next step in milk production is the stainless steel cow producing casein via microbial fermentation. 

Dariush Ajami (Chief Innovation Officer of Beyond Meat) presented on Food that fights climate change: replacing the animal in meat. Beyond Meat is dedicated to building animal meat from plants that is indistinguishable from its animal-based equivalent. A Life Cycle Assesment (LCA), which compared the environmental impact of the Beyond Burger to a beef burger, showed that the production of the Beyond Burger led to 99% less water usage, 93% less land usage, 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and 46% less energy usage. 

Kees de Gooijer led the panel discussion. What could the legislators do to help the innovations that we are talking about? Have a light version of novel food? Can we find a better process in which the consumer will trust the food that is on the market but in which the approval time is much shorter?
Why do we put so much effort in producing meat and dairy succesors instead of promoting the consumption of pulses directly?
What could we do to trigger consumers to change their behaviours bit by bit?

Twice a year the Sustainable Food Initiative (SFI) organizes an Inspirational Session. Every session has a different theme in the field of sustainable food production, we invite speakers who will share their latest innovations and interact with the audience. The sessions are meant to give tools to the food industry to produce sustainably, inspire scientists and students to develop sustainable food technology and convince everyone else to make the better choice. The sessions are transparent and open for everyone to join who is interested in sustainable food.