Future of Food

Food for Good

Three to five times a day, we as individuals get to make a choice – a choice that has an incredible impact on the world around us. That choice not only impacts the health of our family, but also impacts the health of the planet, and with our food supply system being more globalized than ever, our individual food choices have a great impact on others around the world.

Food is a sensitive topic. It is not just fuel for our bodies, but it offers a way of connecting with others, experiencing new cultures, and often times is tied with some of our fondest memories. However, as the planet continues to warm, the global population continues to increase, and our available resources to feed the growing population are stretched more and more, we must begin to address the impact that our personal food choices have on the greater world around us. More importantly, we must begin to ask the question: What responsibility do we as individuals and business leaders have to promote conscious and ethical consumption of food in our personal lives and in our businesses, and what concrete actions can we take today to address the ever-pressing problems we as global citizens are facing? These were two questions that were at the heart of the second IAAG Business and Society Community event hosted on July 4, 2019 in Munich, titled The Future of Food: Rise of the Conscious Consumer in Reducing Waste.

INSEAD: Future of Food 

At around 18:00, 65 participants began to arrive to the Deloitte offices in Munich to begin what would become an evening steeped in discussion and meaningful conversations about the global challenges of food waste along the food value – chain from farm to table.

The evening began with short key-note presentations from experts in a ‘fire-starter’ format to highlight the global food waste and environmental challenges facing businesses and consumers, and to set the stage and create a sense of urgency amongst the participants.  Andreas Bauer, MBA ’89D, Head of Consumer Practice at Deloitte presented the Deloitte EAT Study and Consumer Insights Report to illustrate the present day landscape  of the food value-chain, and the need for reconsidering our approach as consumers and businesses to dealing with foodwaste, food choices and overall sustainability both globally and in Germany. Michael Goebbels, Director of Corporate Responsibility Strategy at METRO presented the various ways in which supermarkets and distributors are responding to customer demand to decrease use of plastic in their stores. Pia Bonke, HSE Specialist at Compass Group presented the innovate ways large-scale food service and canteens are combating food waste and highlighted the topic of the ‘true cost’ of food. Michael Horsch, CEO of Horsch Farming, discussed farming technology, and highlighted how we need to be asking deeper questions about what the composition of our food plate will look like in the future. These thought-provoking presentations were followed by small discussion groups where participants put their heads together in an attempt to really digest and reflect on the pressing issues presented by the key contributors.

Finding a Solution

Following the group discussion, attendees were asked to begin to shift their mind away from the ‘burning platform’ and on to the potential solutions. Three additional experts presented a variety of possible solutions to the ever-pressing issues presented in the first half of the evening. Solutions included options like leveraging new technology like AI to reduce food waste, rethinking animal feed with insects. and solutions as simple as switching personal food choices from animals to plants. Andreas Aepli, EMBA ’16D, MD of Insect Technology Solutions for the Buhler Group presented how insects could be used as a more environmentally sustainable source of protein for raising livestock. Anja Kreienberg from Winnow Solutions showcased how restaurants and kitchens can leverage AI technology to decrease food waste and gain better insight into the use of ingredients in their kitchens. Finally, Jens Tuider, Advisor to the CEO of Proveg, presented how simply changing our plates to become more plant-centric is the multi-problem solution to many of the challenges we currently face, and is well within our individual control.

Participants then broke out into smaller group once more to discuss their learnings from the experts and discuss what we as business leaders and as individuals believe could be the solution(s) to the burning platform, and what these solutions would need to look like to be successful at scale.

Throughout the event, attendees were encouraged to network with the experts and fellow INSEAD Alumni while enjoying truly ‘conscious food’ from three local Munich organizations, all similarly with a mission to use food as a force for good. The participants learned throughout the event about the disproportional negative impact that animal product consumption, particularly of meat, has on both the environment and our health. Therefore, the food provided at the event was Vegan and Vegetarian, and included new and innovated products in food technology such as the famed Beyond Burger, recently launched in Germany, to highlights the growing alternatives to meat consumption. Vegetarian options were provided by Dean & David, vegan options were provided by The Plant Kitchen, and vegan cakes were baked with love by Grandma’s from the social start up, Kuchentratsch.

Personal Pledges

As the evening began to wind down, and as both the pressing problems and potential solutions were presented and discussed, participants were asked to make a personal pledge. These personal pledges aimed to translate what was learned throughout the evening into real action, and to encourage participants to bring the learnings from the evening into their personal and professional lives. A number of the personal pledges can be seen below:

written by Kelsey Hudspeth