On Thursday and Friday last week, Ian Weston and I attended the excellent conference Future Food-Tech in London. This conference claims to bring together senior leaders of ‘new food’ – food designed to improve human and planetary health. Here are a few of my reflections from the conference:
- It felt great to be back in a room with lots of other people discussing our industry. It reminded me how much I had missed this experience in the past 30 months.
- The breadth of backgrounds and experiences at this conference was excellent; entrepreneurial start-ups – some well-funded, others just beginning the journey – established food companies like Quorn and Danone, major suppliers to the industry like Tetrapak and DSM, top retailers like Sainsbury’s, venture funds, PE funds, bankers and consultants. As a networking event, this was exceptionally good.
- We got to see a 3D printing machine designed to print cultivated meat, courtesy of Steakholder Foods. The fact they weren’t yet printing their cultivated meat and if they were, we wouldn’t have been able to eat it, highlights the long-term vision of many of the start-ups – some will take decades to come to market.
- We were most excited by the biomass fermenters, fermenting algae or fungus, including Mycotech, Algenuity, and Calysta. The ingredients have amazing properties, their environmental footprints are exceptional, and they seem closest to commercialisation. In fact, Enough Food are starting their manufacturing process as soon as next month!
- Respect to the participants in the forum on novel foods regulation, mainly regulators. Many of the start-ups in the food space are frustrated by the pace of regulatory approval, particularly in the UK where time to approval has slowed to a snail’s pace, despite the so-called ‘Brexit boon’. Nevertheless, hats off to Paul Tossell from the UK’s Food Standards Agency who had the good grace to stand up in a public forum and defend the glacial pace of progress – I guess they have never had this level of inbound inquiries before.
- …and finally, congratulations to Quorn Foods who showed us all how to serve plant-based foods. Quorn brought their own chefs to prepare some delicacies, not relying on the chef team at the Park Plaza Hotel. The Quorn team demonstrated how good plant-based food can be. Take note Impossible Foods, This, etc. – they beat you for taste and quality hands down.
Food Strategy Associates are a focused specialist food & drink consulting firm with unrivaled expertise in the global plant-based market, covering a wide range of capability areas and across plant-based technologies.