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Amsterdam: Sustainable Foods Summit to address ingredient and consumer impacts

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

Sustainable ingredients, marketing developments and consumer behaviour are the main themes of the 5th European edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit. Taking place at the Mövenpick hotel in Amsterdam on 6-7 June 2013, the summit will discuss practical methods to lower the environmental footprint of food and beverage products by using sustainable ingredients and changing consumer behaviour. The 2-day programme comprises four distinct sessions. (Picture: a former edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit in Amsterdam)

Food and beverage companies are under continuous pressure to innovate. The Sustainable Ingredients session will show how sustainable raw materials can spur innovation whilst reducing environmental impacts of finished products. Bob Quinn, Founder and President of Kamut International, will discuss the use of ancient grains in modern processed foods. Grains such as khorasan, quinoa, amaranth, and spelt were widely used thousands of years ago; they are now making a comeback as farmers move away from crop monoculture and as consumers seek more product varieties. Many farmers are keeping with traditional agricultural practices and growing such grains according to organic farming methods.

Professor Monique Simmonds, head of innovations unit at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, will give a paper on natural sweeteners. With high sugar intake linked to health conditions like obesity and diabetes, the food industry is actively searching for new sweeteners. Simmonds will highlight emerging natural sweeteners for food and beverage applications. The sustainability issues concerning vegetable oils will be covered by the Brazilian company Agropalma and GreenPalm. Although palm oil is considered the most efficient vegetable oil, its sustainable supply is often questioned. Other papers will feature novel food ingredients, sustainable marine ingredients, and the social impact of sustainable sourcing.

A number of papers will discuss the social aspect of sustainability in the opening session titled Sustainability Best-Practices. The keynote will outline the various dimensions of the social pillar of sustainability. Kelvin Cheung, CEO of Foodcycle, will explain how his enterprise has made food waste a driver of positive social change. The London-based entity collects surplus food from retailers to prepare nutritious meals for the needy. Apart from the environmental impact of re-directing food from landfill, Foodcycle addresses social issues of youth development and food poverty. The enterprise recruits volunteers who learn new skills for future employment, whilst healthy meals are served to the poor and malnourished.

Another paper on Sustainable Food Cities will emphasise the role of sustainable food systems to help alleviate environmental, economic and social issues in urban areas. Tom Andrews from the Soil Association will state how public-private partnerships can help build local food systems that benefit consumers and growers. In light of the recent horse meat scandal, another paper discusses vulnerabilities in food supply chains and methods to minimise food fraud.

With much of Europe mired in financial crisis, marketing sustainable foods is bringing many challenges. Such challenges and methods to overcome them will be debated in the Marketing Developments session. Veronica Rubio from BSCI will explain the difficulties retailers face in balancing environmental-social issues, as well as building transparent supply chains. A leading European food retailer will share its experiences in selecting and marketing sustainable food products. Henk Gerbers from Vion Foods will show how organic brands can break the ‘green glass ceiling’ and compete with large conventional brands. Owned by a Dutch foundation, the Bio + brand has become one of the most successful in the European organic food industry. Launched in 2005, it is now one of the top 100 consumer brands in the Netherlands.

The final session on Consumer Behaviour hones in on methods to encourage sustainability at the consumer level. Martin Plumberg from Brands & Values will share some life-cycle analyses on the environmental footprint of food & beverages. Insights will be given into the environmental impact of consumers buying, using and disposing of such products. A research agency will share its findings on consumer motives to buy sustainable foods, whilst the British Retail Consortium will highlight some of the ways responsible purchasing and consumption can be encouraged. Simran Sethi, environmentalist and sustainability strategist, will delve into the psychology of green consumerism: what can be done to translate awareness into green purchases and responsible behaviour? More information the summit is available from



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