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Food summit confronts sustainability challenges

By Jenni Spinner+

28-Apr-2014

The Sustainable Foods Summit tackles common concerns among the global supply chain.
The Sustainable Foods Summit tackles common concerns among the global supply chain.

The Sustainable Foods Summit brought Cargill, Unilever, Mondelez, Walmart, and other significant stakeholders to hammer out sustainability concerns.

The Sustainable Foods Summit (tracking top concerns regarding food sustainability since 2009) recently held its inaugural Latin American edition in Brazil.

Sustainability developments

Amarjit Sahota, director of event organizer Organic Monitor, told FoodProductionDaily events like the recent Summit showcase best practices and major developments in food sustainability.

Since talks are given by industry experts and not academics, the summit gives practical guidance so companies can implement what they learn,” he said. “Second, the summit provides a great forum to network with executives looking to take concrete steps towards sustainability.”

Sahota added the Sustainable Foods Summit has become a prime location for different food industry players to form fruitful business and strategic partnerships.

Uncommon concerns

According to Sahota, producers in the region share a number of concerns singular to the Latin American market.

Low consumer knowledge of organic foods and lack of production are major challenges the Latin American food industry faces,” he said. “Many Brazilian consumers are aware of organic farming methods; however, they do not know the exact differences between organic and conventional products.”

Sahota added Latin America grows a broad range of significant organic commodities, such as sugar, orange juice, wheat, and cocoa. However, only a few processed foods (including baby food, juices, and biscuits) are produced there, Sahota said.

Beef production

Among the topics discussed by the 140 senior executives gathered at the summit, Sahota told FPD, is progress made in sustainable beef production. Much of the world’s beef comes from the region, and until recently, the industry was associated with ant-eco practices, he said.

Beef production has traditionally been linked to deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil; many cattle ranchers used cleared land after deforestation for livestock production,” he said. “There has been a lot of media publicity about this, leading to the development of sustainable beef production.”

Sahota explained livestock producers who engage in legal, ethical, and sustainable beef growing practices are recognized for their efforts. In contrast, ranches on deforested land are blacklisted.

Additional areas

Other topics discussed at the Summit include the surging number of certification schemes for food products, developing markets, production efficiency, marketing organics, and packaging production. Attendees also discussed preventing food and packaging waste, recycling, and biodiversity.

The Sustainable Foods Summit now holds similar events around the globe. The sixth European edition is scheduled June 5-6 in Amsterdam; topics on the table include sustainable proteins, clean-label developments, and emerging technologies.

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