We do not innovate fast enough when it comes to our food system. That’s the overall feel of the seventh edition of F&A Next. The annual event brings together start-ups and investors in agriculture and food. That connection is necessary to accelerate the innovation process, and it is necessary to achieve the sustainability goals. Because to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees, we need to act now.
Crisis brings change
It is not easy. For the last two years we had a pandemic, and immediately after the war broke out in Ukraine. Our economy is shaking to the core. Most people take a wait-and-see attitude when a crisis threatens. But that’s exactly what we should not do, argues Tony Fadell during F&A Next. He is one of the co-creators of the iPod, iPhone and Nest. Crisis is the perfect time to change pace, he argues. Because making money (quickly) is less obvious in times of crisis, people focus more on their mission. Fadell is convinced of that.
The consumer is the leader
In the food sector, which is what F&A Next is all about, we still need to make great progress. Combating climate change, conserving nature’s diversity and tackling world inequality. These are important challenges that we, society as a whole, face. All of these topics are gathered in the food system, according to Peter Bakker, CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, in his keynote address during the event. Sustainable and efficient agriculture, more sustainable transport and more attention to animal welfare and waste are what companies and non-profit organizations will strive for in the coming period.
But what will our food look like in the future? Are we still eating meat? Or have we completely switched to plant-based protein? How do we grow fruits and vegetables? Vertical in greenhouses? Or on land? All relevant questions for which there is not yet a clear answer. What is really important to implement crucial changes? Consumer behavior. Different experts from different fields agree. Consumers will buy new or differently produced products, or not. Price, taste and quality are very important here.
source of inspiration
Habits also play an important role for consumers and it is very difficult to change habits. That is why, according to Maartje Frederiks, founder of HelloFresh, it is very important to inspire consumers. Businesses and other organizations need to bring consumers to new ideas. Not only a good source of inspiration but education also plays an important role in this. People need to learn how to make new things and know what to look for in order to put a good, complete meal on the table.
Fall and rise
This is what the various start-ups and companies working on a more sustainable food system are aware of. The magic word? Grow, fall, stand up and scale up. Only if many companies together focus on the production of sustainable food can they really disrupt the system. Because in the end, it should be possible to produce, for example, vegetable protein on a large scale and therefore make it cheaper. The meat industry also started small. So really, we should be patient for a few more decades. We just do not have that time. We only have a few years left to reverse the trend when it comes to global warming.
To achieve this, cooperation is needed. It sounds like a cliché, but according to the experts at F&A Next, it’s the only way to really make a difference. For example, universities can help larger companies with scientific knowledge, SMEs can use their experience to help start-ups increase the chance of success, and consumers should give new developments and new businesses a chance. That way, together we can deliver sustainable food and a world that can be lived.