Companies campaigning for health and future food
Volkert Engelsmann, founder and CEO of the Dutch organic company Eosta explained the campaign Dr Good Fooda at the Sustainable Foods Summit. Photo Karin Heinze
The Sustainable Foods Summit in Amsterdam showed that pioneers as well as the next generation in the organic industry think differently. Their attitude goes far beyond earning money with their products. They have the aspiration to include in their companies and products fairness, social outreach and sustainability in addition to health aspects and, of course, the ideas of organic agriculture. Interesting best practice and their different approaches were presented at the summit.
Struggling with Diet-related illnesses
The world is struggling with diet-related illnesses. Fast food, soft drinks and too much sugar are linked to thousands of millions of cases of diabetes, obesity and other diseases. The issue of health has been one of the priorities since the beginning of the organic industry. At the Sustainable Foods Summit Franziska Rosario, CEO of Lovechock (Netherlands), talked about her own experience as a young woman when she spent some time in the United States. Since the 1960s the obesity rate has more than tripled and is expected to reach 50% by 2050. This development has run in parallel with the growth of McDonalds' revenues. The fast food industry earns more than 150 billion US dollars, and this is three times as much as the whole organic sector in the States, Rosario said.
Franziska Rosario, CEO of the Dutch raw chocolate maker LoveChoc presents her experience of health problems and the benefits of raw cocoa. Photo Karin Heinze
Her experience and increasing awareness of a conscious lifestyle brought her to raw cocoa. And she explained how exploring the positive impact of raw food was a fascinating discovery. “Raw cocoa beans contain a lot of goodness, so many health additives, vitamins and minerals,” she raved and went on to talk about how carefully the whole supply chain has to be arranged from the begining.
Nielsen data show the “health revolution has begun”
Food habits have changed so much, but the health revolution has begun! This was the statement of Céline Grena from Nielsen Belgium. Data evaluations have shown that the expectations of consumers are changing. In Europe 59% of the population suffer from being overweight and 47% are trying to lose weight. So 78% of people in the EU want to change their lifestyle to reduce their weight and fight health issues, Grena explained. They are, therefore, asking for information about food: more transparency, more local, more healthy, more organic food.
Nielsen data show that consumers are claiming for more transparency and more sustainable products. Photo Karin Heinze
The state makes producers responsible for unhealthy food
The case of Hungary demonstrates clearly that the state can make producers responsible for health issues. After analysing the poor health status of the population as a consequence of too much unhealthy food the government decided to raise sugar taxes to fight overweight and obesity, and it achieved good results. In other states too a sugar tax is being discussed and Belgium and the UK have introduced legislation this year. France initiated a “soft drinks tax” along with a promotional strategy and the result was positive: the industry responded with many reformulations. “The measures have been very effective,” explained Céline Grena. Grena advised manufacturers and retailers to keep the product recipes transparent and simple. “Health will continue to remain priority number 1,” she stated.
The audience at the 10th Sustainable Foods Summit Europe discussed a wide variety of topics. Photo Karin Heinze
Eosta: creative marketing of healthy food
Volkert Engelsman, who founded Eosta almost 30 years ago and today is one of the most important European organic fruit and vegetable wholesalers, is tirelessly optimizing the company according to sustainability criteria and by promoting healthy nutrition. This is also linked to increasing people's appreciation of organic products: by means of a study, Eosta was able to substantiate “the real costs of food”, which concerns the costs that conventional foodstuffs generate due to their higher consequential costs for humans and the environment (externalised costs), and the value of this work has been widely recognised.
The Eosta campaign Dr Good Food. Chart Eosta/ Nature & More.
In the “Dr. Good Food” campaign a theme that is thousands of years old - “your food may be your remedy” (Hippocrates) - is taken up in a creative and contemporary way. Eosta has launched the “Dr. Good Food” campaign to raise awareness of the health benefits of fruit and vegetables. “We have to overcome the old system, get a bigger picture and redefine profit,” said Engelsman. “We need more Robin Foods,” he demanded. It is not acceptable that billions of taxpayers' money have to be spent on removing residues of medicines, chemical fertilizers and pesticides from our water.
Health costs could be drastically reduced if we ate more organic food, Engelsman said. With the “Dr. Good Food” campaign, Eosta aims to raise awareness of the health and ecological benefits of fruit and vegetables. We must not forget that all things are connected. If we want to improve our health and that of the environment, we must not forget the soil and we must not forget to enable farmers to grow sustainably through fair prices.
Caryl Levine Co-CEO of Lotus Foods a California based organic rice specialist. Photo Karin Heinze
Lotus Foods: rice is life
Caryl Levine, co-founder and Co-CEO of Lotus-Foods, a pioneer in organic rice specialities in California, had a different focus. Not only the broad range of rice varieties and their function as a healthy diet is the mission of Lotus but also the social impact on small farmers – especially the women in the sourcing countries in Asia.
Video interview with Caryl Levine, CEO of Lotus Foods
The animal free approach – veggie, vegan and clean meat
The market for plant-based food is booming. This is proved by the figures of Verena Wiederkehr, Senior Manager Corporate Outreach at ProVeg International. The importance of the vegetarian and vegan movement is shown by a statement by the world's largest meat marketer. She quoted Tom Hayes, CEO of Tyson Food (USA): “The future of food could be meatless.” She explained that the three markets that are currently and until 2020 the fastest growing vegan markets are mainland China (17.2%), the United Arab Emirates, with 10.6%, and Australia, with 9.6%. In the product area, many categories of plant-based alternatives are growing rapidly: the largest are now plant milk alternatives, which doubled their worldwide turnover to 21 billion dollars between 2009 and 2015. Currently, dried egg alternatives are the fastest growing segment. The global market for plant egg alternatives is expected to grow by 5.7% from 2017 and reach US$ 1.1bn by 2022.
Verena Wiederkehr speaker for Proveg International addressed the benefits of plant based food. Photo Karin Heinze
Plant food is on the rise
ProVeg is well on its way to achieving its mission of reducing global animal consumption by 50% by 2040. More than 15,000 products from 1,300 licensees are now listed under the Proveg International label. The label is registered in 59 countries. Verena Wiederkehr analysed three points as key drivers: health, environment and food security. Plant alternatives could reduce the risk of diet-related diseases and cancer, but also the risks to public health from antibiotic resistance, said the ProVeg representative. ProVeg's vision is a world in which everyone can choose food that is “good for all people, animals and our planet."
Supermeat is a company from Isreal that started to produce in vitro meat. Shir Friedman Co-CEO of Supermeat presented the advantages of this new method of meat production. Photo Karin Heinze
Is clean meat the way to food security?
Shir Friedman from Israel presented a new technique to recreate meat from animal cells. The CCO and co-founder of SuperMeat argued in favour of in-vitro production of meat because normal meat production causes too many problems. Today, there are three times more animals than people on the globe and meat consumption has doubled in a short time. “Animals are not very efficient producers of meat,” she said. High water consumption, high output of greenhouse gases, high use of land and many more reasons. Clean meat is an efficient way to satisfy today´s hunger for proteins – it saves 90% of water, 80 % of greenhouse gases and 99% of the land. She maintained that, although it sounds like the future, it is already possible: even big meat producers and the US regulation bodies are on board ( FDA), and 70% of consumers are willing to try clean meat. She ended with the outlook that clean meat is an activity with high potential.