Getting the Asia–Pacific region on board with sustainability in the food industry

Friday, 28 July, 2017

Asia is an important grower and exporter of organic crops, but not a significant consumer. With 60% of the global population and some of the richest consumers, Asia’s share of the global organic food market is less than 10%. This might be about to change when Ecovia Intelligence (formerly Organic Monitor) brings the Asia–Pacific edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit to Singapore from 28–30 November 2017.

Organic market potential, food fraud and authenticity, sustainable ingredients and marketing best practices will be areas of focus in this first executive summit in Asia focusing on eco-labels and sustainability in the food industry.

The summit will begin with an update on sustainability developments: with agriculture and food production linked to many of the environmental and social issues faced by the planet, how can Asian food and ingredient firms make a sustainable difference? Opening seminars will cover the role of soil fertility in sustainable agriculture, sustainable seafood outlook, environmental impacts of foods and the retailer perspectives.

HE Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, Minister of Agriculture & Forests of Bhutan, will share the country’s commitments to sustainable development. The Asian country has become the ‘poster child’ for sustainability since it leads in organic agriculture, climate change mitigation, food security and clean water. With metrics commonly used in sustainability, the minister will also discuss the implications of its Gross National Happiness Index.

The Organic Market Potential session will discuss approaches to encourage organic food production and consumption. Raj Seelam, founder and CEO of Indian organic food enterprise Sresta Natural Bioproducts, will highlight the major obstacles operators face in Asia. Vitoon Panyakul, executive director of Green Net, will show how internal markets for organic products can be developed. With 4 million hectares of organic farmland, case studies will be given of Asian brands that have managed to ignite consumer demand for organic products. Another paper, by Andrew Monk from Australian Organic, will discuss consumer behaviour. What makes consumers buy organic foods? What are the triggers? What features should brands highlight when undertaking marketing campaigns?

Best practices in marketing organic and sustainable foods will also be showcased at the summit. An international brand of organic baby food will state the issues when building distribution across geographic regions. A Malaysian chain of health food shops will share its experiences in retailing sustainable foods. Other speakers will discuss approaches to change consumer behaviour. How can Asian consumers be encouraged to purchase sustainable foods and consume products responsibly? With a burgeoning middle class, sustainability issues like rising meat and seafood consumption, packaging impacts and food waste are coming to the fore. Eugene Wang, founder and CEO of Sophie’s Kitchen, will discuss the opportunities provided by plant-based seafood alternatives. The Taiwanese company has created a novel range of such products using sustainable ingredients.

With food fraud and mislabelling rife in Asia, a dedicated workshop will cover food fraud and authenticity. Andy Morling, head of Food Crime UK (Food Standards Agency), will show how organised crime syndicates are now targeting the food industry. Giving case studies of recent meat scandals (Brazilian beef and horse meat), the vulnerabilities in global food supply chains will be highlighted. Guidance will be given to food and ingredient firms on how they can prevent food fraud and implement greater controls.

The Asia–Pacific edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit aims to help tackle some of the major sustainability issues facing the regional food industry. Amarjit Sahota, president of Ecovia Intelligence (organiser of the summit), said: “There is a growing realisation that the food industry plays an important role in resolving many of the sustainability issues we face; by hosting this summit, we want to ensure Asia is also part of the solution.”

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