ProVeg’s New Food Conference: shaping the future of food

At a moment in time when we are facing rapidly increasing demand for animal products and our environmental footprint is at its largest, it’s time to rethink our definition of food. The New Food Conference will bring together innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs to discuss tomorrow’s alternatives to animal food products.

“If we can grow meat without the animal, why wouldn’t we?” This question was not raised by an animal advocate but by Tom Hayes, former CEO of Tyson Foods – the largest meat producer in the United States. What is going on when a heavyweight in the meat industry makes such a public statement?

What’s going on is that we currently have a highly inefficient, unsustainable, and cruel system in place in order to produce food. It is a system that has in recent years been increasingly debated in terms of its impacts on the environment and its treatment of animals. Today’s customers are more conscious of their food choices and are demanding more transparent and sustainable options. The planet simply does not have enough resources to feed a growing population with current approaches to food technology.

Food of the future

So what’s the alternative? Is there a way to produce meat, dairy, and fish without sacrificing our planet’s health and the life of billions of sentient beings each year? Those are the questions that will be addressed at the ProVeg New Food Conference which will be taking place from March 21-22, 2019. With no similar event existing in Europe thus far, ProVeg is paving the way for the future of food by bringing together leading experts in the field of innovative animal protein alternatives. The program is now live on the ProVeg website, and focuses on consumer acceptance, shaping the European market, as well as increasing media attention and public awareness of the subject. The conference will be supported by Rügenwalder Mühle and Simply V, two big corporates in the food business that recognized the potential of the plant-based movement early on.

New protein sources

The first day of the New Food Conference will be dedicated to plant-based proteins. From good old tofu to ‘bleeding’ Impossible Burgers, milk-like drinks, and melting cheese substitutes, plant-based alternatives use the diversity of the plant world to create products resembling the texture and flavor of common animal products. Renowned speakers, including food and health expert Hanni Rützler, Max Burger’s Product Manager Jonas Mârtensson, and Lisa Feria, Director of Stray Dog Capital, will give an overview of the latest developments and current research in the plant-based protein market, and will also address other factors involved in bringing innovation to the mainstream – from investment strategies to product placement and consumer acceptance.

Cultivating not caging

‘In vitro’, ‘cultured’, ‘clean’ – there are many names for the emerging market of protein alternatives. In fact, there are so many ground-breaking approaches to replacing current animal production standards that it can be confusing to understand what’s what.

‘Cultured’ or ‘clean’ meat is not a meat-free alternative – it is made in a laboratory from actual animal cells. By applying the latest advances in technology, meaty food items are produced in sophisticated cell-culture and tissue-engineering processes. The growth and innovation in this field has been remarkable over the last couple of years. While clean meat is still the main focus, the concept of cultured animal products is broadening. Dedicated to cell-based proteins, the second day of the New Food Conference will host experts on the trends and opportunities around cultured fish and meat, as well as discussions about the implications for the food industry and the legal framework. Renowned scientists and entrepreneurs such as Dr. Mark Post, the ‘father of cultured meat’, Michael Selden, CEO of Finless Foods, and Dr. Arianna Ferrari, researcher on ‘Visions of In Vitro Meat’, will share their expertise. A panel of selected speakers will discuss the social and economical challenges of this emerging industry for traditional farmers, as well as exploring the numerous opportunities that will arise.

It’s time for tomorrow

We simply can’t continue to eat the way we currently do, and the good news is that we don’t have to. There is so much innovation and research happening to create solutions that are free of animal suffering and have a better ecological footprint. It is a now a matter of shining a light on those approaches in order to get businesses involved and paving the way for the acceptance of future customers. Those concepts are more than just crazy ideas, they are the first steps into a new age of food. In October, the US-governmental regulators FDA and USDA came together to discuss future clean meat regulations and its implementation in the food supply.1 The fact that clean protein has reached such high political levels is proof of its relevance in the food sector. The time is ripe to introduce futuristic innovation to European businesses and customers. Please join us at the New Food Conference and become a pioneer in the new age of food!

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  1. FDA (Food and Drug Administration), 2018: USDA/FDA Joint Public Meeting: The Use of Cell Culture Technology to Develop Products Derived from Livestock and Poultry. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/NewsEvents/WorkshopsMeetingsConferences/UCM623266.pdf [14.12.18]

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