The next North American edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit will be hosted in San Francisco on 16-18th January 2019. Please contact us to keep informed of upcoming editions.

The previous edition took took place in San Francisco on 30-31st January 2018. View the summit pics here.

The summit comprised four conference sessions…

Session One: Sustainability Update

The premier session gave an update on sustainability, highlighting major developments and new concepts. Some operators in the food industry are criticized for focusing on their environmental and / or social impacts in isolation. There is a call for a ‘systems change’ whereby green / ethical issues are at the very heart of an organizations existence. In this context, the growing importance of conscious capitalism was discussed, including success stories. Other papers covered urban farming, food safety regulations, bioplastic packaging, and a case study from a leading natural food company.

To conclude, featured speakers discussed the future outlook for sustainability. With agriculture and the food industry linked to major environmental and social issues the planet faces, what is the way forward? Is it with existing approaches that reduce impacts, or is an overhaul required in terms of sustainability thinking and corporate ethos?

Session Three: Health Impacts

Rising incidents of health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes have all been linked to diet. Some argue that sustainable foods should also mean healthy foods, for such products should have health impacts – as well as sustainability benefits. This new session covered important developments in this growing field.

To begin, the latest health & wellness trends were outlined. What are the implications to food & beverage firms? An update was given on GM labeling and regulations in the US. With meat consumption linked to rising greenhouse gases and health issues, what developments are occurring in plant-based proteins? Other speakers discussed health product innovations, consumer insights, and approaches to encourage healthy food consumption . The subject was further explored by the panel who will discuss consumer behavior: what can be done to push the needle for health foods?

Session Two: Food Ingredients for Sustainability

This session highlighted important developments in sustainable ingredients in the food industry. Details were given on food ingredients that are making a sustainable difference in terms of environmental and social impacts. An update was given on sustainable soy sourcing, followed by details on how seaweeds can create innovative products. Other speakers discussed flavorings for sustainability, and clean label ingredients.

An innovative brand showed it has developed slave-free supply chains for sustainable cocoa. Insights were given into how it plans to eradicate poverty with its ethical chocolates. The session ended with the panel debating approaches to verify the sustainability credentials of popular ingredients.

Session Four: Organic & Eco-Labels Outlook

Organic and eco-labeled foods are now well-established in the North American food industry. Although they comprise over 5 percent of total food sales, there are questions about the future development. What are the hurdles to further growth? How do the US and Canadian markets compare to other international markets? Details were given on the leading fair trade labeling scheme in the US, as well as issues when developing a sustainability certification scheme.  What are the brand’s perspectives on organic and other popular labels? Which labels are most important to them and why? Such questions were addressed in this session.

To conclude, featured speakers will discuss the future outlook for eco-labels: are we likely to see more eco-labels, or is some rationalization on the horizon? What eco-labels are likely to achieve most success and why?