East Netherlands


Key levers for transition to sustainable food production

Smart Food Production – What are the key levers the EU can use to make the transition to sustainable food production? – The central theme of the Future Food Conference organized by EIT Food and Friends of Europe at the Town Hall Europe in Brussels on the 20th of November 2019. Two hundred participants from all over Europe attended this conference in order to discuss the current challenges in food production and provide the European Union with policy recommendations on the future of food. The attendees varied from entrepreneurs, academics, EU-policy makers and representatives of corporates.

Scene Setting

10.4% of the global population is coping with chronic hunger. – Marco Sanchez of the FAO opened this conference by setting the scene. – The global food production industry is responsible for a large amount of CO2 and nitrogen emissions.

With the growing world population, the traditional way of producing food is not sustainable. In his analysis he mentioned that the current food output is unequally distributed. At the other side of the spectrum there are a large amount of people with diabetes or overweight. By pro-actively reducing the inequality of the food distribution and by producing food smarter, we can tackle the climate impact and hunger effectively.

Key levers – Panel discussion

A panel discussion provided key levers for transforming the food systems and delivering impact. The panel consisted of four panelists: John Bell (Healthy Planet Direction, European Commission), Luisa Crisigiovanni (Secretary-General at Altroconsumo), Luke Disney (Head of Communications, Rabobank) and Gert Meijer (Chair of the European Technology Platform, Nestlé). The panel discussed several topics related to food production. Some interesting thoughts emerged:

  • Helping  food producers to think more in systems instead of value chains leads to a shift from the traditional profit-based mindset to a more holistic perspective on food production.
  • Developing policy and innovations will help customers to make more conscious decisions about their food consumption.

Break-out sessions

Participants could join three workshops:

  1. Revolutionizing the food system: taking people on board;
  2. Protein: the battle for the center of the plate;
  3. Digitalization: transforming food production and consumption.

After the workshops, participants could give their input and comments in table sessions on the future policy and innovations to tackle the challenges related to the food industry. The take away message of this conference was:

Act fast and together to make an effective transition to a healthy and sustainable food production.

Think East Netherlands

Our aim was to scout potential partners for Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe agri-food projects. And look out for interesting food-related initiatives relevant for our region. East Netherlands was represented by Jouke Kardolus and Suradj Hiralal of East-Netherlands Development Agency Oost NL. Both participants work in the Food Business Development  team and develop various initiatives related to sustainable, smart food production. 

“For a healthy life, think smart & sustainable”, Think East Netherlands.