Innovation Footprint of "Sustainable Food" 10 October 2023
Whether We Have to Choose between Eating for Pleasure or for Health? INNOFOOD-2023

The international forum INNOFOOD-2023 in Sochi got together the main experts on innovative technologies in the food industry and agriculture. The issue of food security and the current nutrition trend known as "sustainable food" received particular emphasis at the main strategic session “FoodTech – High-Tech Approaches to Current Food Challenges”.

Sergey Ivanov,br> EFKO Executive Director
“After the previous INNOFOOD, there was a lot of controversy about new food: why do we need new technologies in nutrition since we have enough products in the traditional sector? In the spring, I spoke with the Minister of Justice of Uganda. And I was once again convinced of how different the view of food can be in different countries. There is no choice: buy poultry meat or plant-based chops. There's basically insufficient protein. Africa will import plant-based meat if the price is at least in between pork and poultry. Therefore, the use of innovative technologies opens up new markets.

The contemporary challenge is to create products that are healthy and tasty, accessible to everyone, and produced in harmony with nature. New technologies shall address exactly this issue.”

The participants in the discussion agreed that the "environmental friendliness" of production, and hence its innovation, will directly influence future supply and demand in the food market.

According to Renata Miranda, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Federative Republic of Brazil for Innovation, Sustainable Development, Irrigation, and Cooperativism, international cooperation in the field of innovation and a large-scale transformation of science and technology are needed: “It is important to look to the future now. Increase production efficiency using fewer resources: water, soil, energy. It is impossible to continue creating the same thing using the old methods. We need to change our way of thinking. In this sense, I am very impressed, for example, with the idea of developing alternative proteins, which EFKO is engaged in”.

Omar Al Jundi, Founder and CEO of Saudi Arabia-based Badia Farms, also emphasized the importance of reducing the carbon footprint of products and respecting nature.

In the opinion of Sergey Ivanov, a comprehensive and progressive approach to this issue is needed: “Transnational corporations cannot agree on what “sustainable food” is. Therefore, the only criterion for “sustainability” there is the carbon footprint. Then “right food” is food that reduces your carbon footprint. And the “right technologies” are those technologies that help to address this challenge.

The threat of a carbon tax on food is already real. Everything drives at this. Here our answer can be a more active position and an integrated approach: suggesting the introduction of an aggregate indicator accounting for not one, but five factors: the use of land and water by technology; climate change resilience; impact on biodiversity, and carbon footprint. That is, make using the “unit of nature” in food production an alternative to the concept of “carbon neutrality”.

Is there a risk that food will become healthier and more environmentally friendly, but the taste and appearance will change? Quite the contrary: modern technologies make it possible to create uncompromising solutions.

“There will undoubtedly be a global redistribution of food markets in the coming years,” Anton Atrashkin, INNOFOOD Program Director, says. “The technologies we are talking about today are the latest innovations. Perhaps the most successful area in FoodTech is plant-based proteins. By 2030, consumption of plant proteins will rise by 16% per year, and the market value will increase approximately 3 times, from 19 billion to 63 billion US dollars. And Russia is definitely among the leaders here.”

Plant-based meat contributes to reducing the carbon footprint of animal agriculture. This is an example of product innovation and “sustainable food.” Many people know that its taste is practically indistinguishable from animal meat. The main reason is market demand.

“Since the last INNOFOOD, sales of plant-based meat in Magnit retail chain have increased 2.5 times,” Anna Meleshina, Managing Director of Magnit, shared. “Taking into account the geography, volume, and specificity of the category, this is quite a big achievement.”

Denis Manturov,
Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Minister of Industry and Trade
“It seems to me that every year healthy nutrition takes off the dilemma: eating something tasteless but healthy or eating something tasty but unhealthy. The taste and benefit factors move in the same direction. So, we all will eat healthy and delicious food!”

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