Looking back at the FoodNexus Visioning Summit 2018

Participants from more than 10 countries had two fruitful days of talks and discussions which have started a journey to define the solutions we need transforming the Food system in Europe.

A report on the main outcomes will be available in a week to attendees and FoodNexus members.

On May 28, Rob Hamer, President of FoodNexus opened the session and introduced the meeting. The FoodNexus Visioning Summit intends to kick off a pan-European discussion on best solutions and actions to prioritize to reach these targets. FoodNexus is working hand in hand with EIT-Food, EFFoST, ETP Food for Life, Foodforce and FoodDrinkEurope on a common initiative to transform the Agri-Food sector in Europe into a more competitive, sustainable and trusted sector, securing the production of safe, nutritious food that every consumer loves. Thereby, the most relevant food actors are ready and willing to act together aligned with the EU Food2030 Strategy, but to ensure a common direction, the right financial frame in place.

Isabelle Esser, Executive Vice-President R&D Foods Unilever talked about the urgency of different approaches and how all aspects of the food chain are interconnected and interdependent. Responding to the type of supply chain needed she indicated that “it is not a matter of short, local supply chains vs long supply chains. We will need them both as long supply chains are needed for food security.” Find presentation here.

Patrick Caron, Chair of the UN High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on Food Security and Nutrition & International Director of Montpellier University of Excellence stressed what is needed to make the food industry sustainable: “We should not shy away from controversies; these will be at the heart of the solutions.” He also insisted that “collaboration is needed; there is cooperation, but not yet sufficient collaboration”.

Jean-Francois Soussana, Vice-President of INRA addressed how the food system should move from incremental to transformative to adequately adapt to the various levels of risk, and how using different strategies, agricultural mitigation is cost competitive and synergistic. Find presentation here.

Five topics reflecting societal challenges were addressed in work sessions – each with brief introductions from experts from industry, academia and civil society:

• Food security and sustainability: Creating a global, competitive, robust and sustainable food system that is resource efficient and climate resilient, and helps revitalize rural communities based on Europe’s varied cultures and foods, while helping consumers making sustainable choices. Find presentations here.

• Food quality and safety: Make the EU food sector fully transparent and consumer-focused, providing safe, high-quality, nutritionally improved, and appealing food products and helping consumers make well-informed decisions to reduce waste and improve sustainability. Find presentations here.

• Food for health and wellbeing: Create a food system that consumers can rely on for health and well-being solutions that are attuned to the specific demands of their life stages and lifestyles. Find presentations here.

• The digital agenda – Integration of novel technologies with social innovations: Boost the food sector capacity to integrate, share, and leverage data, processes, knowledge, and novel technologies, so that it can provide reliable intelligence, connect food sector actors, and develop solutions and services that respond to food-related challenges. Find presentations here.

• New business and innovation ecosystems: facilitated entry point for both large and small businesses and entrepreneurs to partner, attract new business ventures, ideate, create, and bring to market innovations that address food challenges. Find presentations here.

At the end of each workshop, three actions were presented, and the audience voted for the one that would deliver most impact and the one that would be easiest to achieve.

All actions and recommendations were summarized at the end of the meeting by Rob Hamer and Monique Axelos (Scientific Director of Food and Bioeconomy, INRA). “We need to talk solutions, not problems” indicated Mr. Hamer. FoodNexus will continue to work with other organisations to prepare a fully aligned and endorsed agenda for the transformation of the food industry, highlighting main challenges and priorities.