Farm2Fork summit in Australia

‘Innovation in food & agri sector is vital’

An Airbnb for kitchens in cafés and restaurants, vertical agriculture at home and insects that turn leftover food into livestock feed. They are all examples of innovative solutions that help increase global food security.

The food & agri sector is facing formidable challenges worldwide. Feeding the world population of some 10 billion people by 2050 is a critical task for the sector. The farmers who must produce the required food are encountering growing shortages of water, fertilizer, energy and available arable land. The food and agri sector must moreover address a range of critical themes including food safety, changing consumer needs and behaviours, different eating patterns and a growing waste problem. All of this clearly shows that innovative solutions are an absolutely necessity with a view to meeting these challenges.

Farm2Fork

Some 1,300 participants from the food & agri sector discussed these topics at the Farm2Fork summit held in Australia in November 2016. They included leading farmers, international agribusinesses, start-ups, innovators and investors. His Majesty Willem Alexander and Her Majesty Maxima of the Netherlands also visited the summit. A host of innovative ideas were shared with the Farm2Fork summit participants including an Airbnb for kitchens in cafés and restaurants, vertical agriculture in homes, large-scale production of seaweed as an alternative to tagliatelle and insects that turn leftover food into livestock feed.

Knowledge innovation

Rabobank Executive Board Member Berry Marttin emphasises the importance of innovation in the food & agri sector: ‘We must innovate in order to survive in the long term. This not only pertains to technological development, but equally to knowledge innovation.’ Developing new business models and improving access to existing knowledge are good examples of the latter.

Quinoa

There were also inspiring examples of knowledge innovation presented at Farm2Fork. Pedro Merola, a large meat producer from Brazil, initiated FEED (https://www.feed.com.br). It is an excellently conceived and executed concept store in São Paulo that revolves around buying, preparing and eating high-quality meat products. The aim is to build a bridge between the farm and fork. Another compelling example is Australian farmer Ashley Wiese who embarked on a quest years ago to find a crop that can be grown more sustainably and that is better for people’s health. He found what he was looking for in quinoa and began growing it ten years ago, long before it became hugely popular on the market as a superfood.

Making a difference

Innovation and food & agri trends of the future took centre stage at Farm2Fork. The participants were able to share knowledge and expand their networks. The ultimate aim was for them to join forces and minds to make the difference in relation to global food issues. Farm2Fork followed on from the landmark inaugural F20 (Food) summit organised by Rabobank in 2014 in the lead-up to the G20 summit in Australia. The objective was to examine the challenges in the field of global food security and safety. Innovation emerged from the F20 summit as a pathway to solutions with a high level of potential. The role of innovation has continued to gain importance in the years that have followed. This is why innovation was also the focus of the Farm2Fork summit in Australia.