A summary of the speeches at the Global Food Summit 2019

Press Conference in PresseClub Munich on 20 March 2019

(f.l.t.r.: Jaap Strengers, Peter Verstrate, Isabella Pfaff, Stephan Becker-Sonnenschein, Barbara Swartzentruber, Dr. Michael Binder)

The press conference held on 20 March 2019 at PresseClub Munich was broadcast live in the Bavarian Parliament. Journalists from various media organizations like the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Bayerischer Rundfunk, TV Bayern and the Schwäbische Zeitung participated in the press conference.

Peter Verstrate, CEO of Mosa Meat from the Netherlands, presented the state of the research on Clean Meat, produced from stem cell cultures with the aim that food is produced in a way that conserves resources.

Jaap Strengers from Systemiq presented a study on sustainability in food production. His work has already received a lot of attention at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2019. “Currently, every dollar spent on food leads to two dollars of social costs. The biggest problem is that food is produced in a way that requires a lot of land and energy. Therefore, it is necessary to find other types of food production that are less polluting to the environment.”, says Jaap Strengers.

In that line of finding newer methods of food production, concepts of the circular economy from the city of Guelph in Canada could be very important. Barbara Swartzentruber, Executive Director for Strategy, Innovation and Intergovernmental Relations at the City of Guelph, said that Guelph intends to become the “Silicon Valley for Food” while presenting the unique concept of Canada’s first Circular Food Economy at the press conference. Guelph intends to feed its citizens healthier food, rethink waste as a resource and ultimately create more jobs by bringing together various stakeholders in business, academia and entrepreneurs around food innovation. Many projects within the framework of the strategy are to be implemented with the help of new technologies like data-mapping.

Dr Michael Binder from Evonik presented on the Veramaris project in which aquaculture of salmon received all the nutrients from vegetable protein. Previously, two kilograms of wild fish were needed to produce one kilogram of farmed fish. However, with this project, Evonik has managed to innovate a way to stop the overfishing in the ocean. Nonetheless, the production of plant-based proteins for fish food is very energy intensive. In this regard, Dr Binder said, “A single solution can never be absolutely right. There is always a price to pay. And ultimately, it is the end consumer decides what kind of sustainability is the best way forward.”

The first day of the conference on 20 March 2019

(f.l.t.r.: Máximo Torero, Prof. Martina Schraudner, Prof. David Zilberman, Staatsministerin Michaela Kaniber, Stephan Becker-Sonnenschein, H.E. Mariam Al Mehairi, Prof. Justus Wesseler, Dr. Simon Reitmeier)

Michaela Kaniber | Bavarian Minister of State for Food, Agriculture and Forests, Germany

Michaela Kaniber congratulated Mr Stephan Becker-Sonnenschein and the team of the Global Food Summit for providing a platform that provides the right background to global food issues, highlights key factors responsible and poses the right questions necessary to go forward. “It is a great challenge to convey the complexity of the fascinating research and development being undertaken in the food sector.”, so Michaela Kaniber. In her opening speech for the Global Food Summit she highlighted the importance of topic of food production for the state of Bavaria. While speaking about the theme of Foodtropolis, she said, “Foodtropolis and Foodvillage are not contradictory topics for Bavaria. Rural areas and family farms have always played an important role in the Bavarian agriculture ecosystem, alongside disruptive innovations such as urban farming, urban gardening and aquaponics. Bavaria wants to become the leader in Europe for turning ideas in added value for the economy. The technical, cultural and legal challenges of this topic are so complex that they cannot be mastered by any single company, nor can they be mastered by a single state alone.”

Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Mehairi | UAE Minister of State for Food Security | Dubai World Expo 2020

Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Mehairi provided a promising insight into the future of food security in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and gave an insightful presentation about her ministry's work to bring UAE in the top 10 by 2021 and a leader in food security by 2051. Food security, which was defined by her as the availability of safe, nutritious and sufficient food at affordable prices for everyone, is an important issue for UAE because the country imports 90% of agricultural produce. As the Minister of State for Food Security, she highlighted the UAE National Food Security Strategy which aims to bring several initiatives in areas like agribusiness trade facilitation, tech-enabled food production, reduction of food waste, food safety and nutrition, and reduction of food risks and crisis management into the mainframe of policy making. The Food Security Strategy works to improve governance, research and development, data building, human resource management and food awareness. Lastly, she announced that through such initiatives, the Ministry of Food Security has opened a new economic sector for UAE in agriculture by effectively leveraging the three things that UAE has in abundance - sun, sand and sea - and using them to bring long-lasting improvements in food security. 

Máximo Torero | Assistant Director of Economic and Social Development, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Rome 

Máximo Torero is the Assistant Director of Economic and Social Development at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome. In his speech, he highlighted the need for food systems of the future to have a balancing act, where it is important that the existing food gap is closed, economic development is supported while also reducing the environmental impact of our actions. He mentioned that the trend of urbanization in past has been a developed country phenomenon, but in the future more and more urbanization is going to take place in developing parts of the world. While speaking on the role of digital technology, he highlighted that the technology needs to be complementary and bring in innovation, efficiency and inclusion. If it is not complementary, there is the risk that technology will bring concentration and monopoly, and inequality. He also highlighted that urban agriculture is a potential solution to the problems of the food system, but it is not the only solution. Several other initiatives will have to work hand-in-hand. However, urban agriculture has tremendous potential in areas of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Start-up Speed Dating and Public Choice Awards

(f.l.t.r.: Stephan Becker-Sonnenschein, James Draves, Valentin Belser, Lukas Dillinger, Steven Parker, Eshchar Ben-Shitrit, Johanna Braun)

Several start-ups, venture capital providers, angel investors and industry experts responded to the call that was released prior to the Global Food Summit and recommended several start-ups in areas of vertical farming, circular food economy, plant and animal data analytics, biotechnology, packaging and new farm-to-table marketplaces. The best among the recommended start-ups were then selected by the Global Food Summit Board of Trustees to pitch at the conference. 26 start-ups applied for the Global Food Summit Audience Award. 5 were nominated to present on stage their ideas on 20 March 2019. This session was sponsored by BayWa AG and Ingo Maurer, a German industrial designer and moderated by Johanna Braun, Head of Innovation and Start-ups at the Global Food Summit.

The winner for the Audience Award was an Israeli start-up, Redefine Meat ( Redefine Meat is 3D-printing deceptively real-looking and tasty “meat” using plant- and vegetable-based ingredients.

Each of the start-ups had 3 minutes to present their pitch followed by a round of Q&A from the audience for 3 minutes. At the end of the all the pitches, the audience voted for the best start-up. Following are the nominated start-ups.

Agrilution ( from Munich is specialized in “vertical farming” for homes and offer a PlantCube system that customers can use to grow microgreens, herbs and vegetables in their houses. The climatic conditions in their boxes are automatically adjusted according the plant growing inside.

Noyanum ( from Garching near Munich is using artificial intelligence to help reduce food waste in canteens and restaurants. To this end, data about weather, visitors, semester breaks and holidays is correlated to calculate how many dishes are expected to be sold.

Regiothek ( from Passau offers a platform on which small businesses from the region can show who they are and what makes their products unique. These businesses could include farmers, beekeepers, brewers, butchers, bakers, restaurants and individual shops. The platform is designed to promote small and local businesses and encourage removal of monopoly systems common across agricultural sector.

Quinta ( is a start-up from Canada that has optimized and successfully established the value added process for high protein quinoa in the Canadian market. The company works closely with farmers and can produce large quantities of quinoa on dry soils.

The second day of the conference on 21 March 2019

Bernhard Krüsken, Secretary General of the German Farmers' Union

Bernhard Krüsken, General Secretary of the German Farmers’ Union opened the second day of the Global Food Summit with his presentation on “Urban Farming and Classical Agriculture – Competition or Partnership”. He pointed out the role of classical agriculture in Germany and in that context, addressed the potential of urban farming. Germany has approximately 16.6 million hectares of agricultural land, most of which is used for the cultivation of cereals. This cannot be covered by urban farming in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, he suggested that traditional agriculture and innovative urban farmers can collaborate in a partnership model and complement each other.  

Bernhard Kowatsch | Head of the Innovation Accelerator, UN World Food Programme

Bernhard Kowatsch highlighted some initiatives of the Innovations Accelerator of the UN World Food Programme and described its importance in enabling change in food systems, especially in the developing parts of the world. Emphasizing the fact that almost every second person on the planet today has access to the internet, he called for increasing internet-based technological innovation in ending the problem of world hunger. He cited examples of startups from Africa that are being supported by the Innovation Accelerator and showcased their work in the areas like growing food in impossible places and local fodder production using hydroponic farming. He also emphasized on the fact that programmes like the Innovation Accelerator not only act as investment opportunities for these ideas, but also as a bridge between technology and knowledge transfer between developed and developing countries. 

Dr. Michael Binder | Director Sustainability Development, Evonik Industries

Dr. Michael Binder started by briefly speaking about the intersection of the planetary boundaries and the Sustainable Development Goals being the centre for all the transformation necessary in the food system. He then went on to highlight examples of industry-based solutions in making food systems more sustainable. An important highlight from his presentation was the central idea that everything has a price and that is it important to achieve the right balance while selecting solutions for food sustainability. He gave the example of salmon aquaculture systems that, on the one hand, combat salmon over fishing, but on the other, contribute to several negative environmental impact on land. He also presented some surveys of consumer perception towards meat alternatives derived from plants and mentioned that there is a strong case for its future. He summarised his presentation by stating that there is a lot of hard work in choosing the right solutions at the right time. 

Professor Justus Wesseler | Professor of Agricultural Economics and Rural Policy at Wageningen University, Netherlands

Professor Justus Wesseler from Wageningen University presented on the topic of urban farming and the changing trends in agriculture. He pointed out that major developments in the sector are taking place in areas like clean meat, aquaculture, vertical farming, insect cultivation and meat substitutes. Regarding these new developments, he mentioned that they are currently in a nascent stage, they do not have acceptability among the masses, and that there are still several unresolved issues around health and safety of these new methods of food production. However, he was confident that these technologies will soon come to scale and gain mass acceptance in the future. But at the same time, he warned that these new technologies will bring several new problems like the necessary change in infrastructure and the realignment of the workforce engaged in conventional food production. He emphasized on the importance of policy level discussions and decisions in order to bring a fruitful transition.

Associate Professor Dr.-Ing. Nannan Dong | Associate dean, College of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP), Tongji University, Shanghai

Dr. Nannan Dong presented on the topic of rooftop greening projects in China. His presentation brought forth several examples of vertical and rooftop farming as well as urban agriculture in China and explained the various use-cases of these methods. The most prominent projects of rooftop gardens in China are funded by the government and are usually undertaken on the top of educational, cultural, commercial and office buildings. He also explained the concept of village revitalization that is currently in-trend in China as an alternative for city-dwellers in this age of online food delivery and mobile internet. He mentioned that while there are a plethora of projects in China, more clarity is required on the uses of such projects around issues like monetization and produce ownership. 

Henk Wolfert | Programme Manager Research, Amsterdam Advanced Metropolitan Solutions Institute (AMS) mit freundlicher Unterstützung des niederländischen Generalkonsulates und Amsterdam, Netherlands

Henk Wolfert presented his organization, Amsterdam Advanced Metropolitan Solutions Institute (AMS) and highlighted its organizational structure and some of the projects undertaken in the field of food and circular economy. AMS works on three fronts; namely, education, research and data collection. Amongst the six areas of focus, their metropolitan food systems departments undertakes projects that explore whether a modern city region is capable of producing food consumed by its citizens. Their projects tackle three basic aspects of the food supply chain - urban food production, local-to-local food distribution and the diet of urban consumers. In his presentation, Dr Wolfert highlighted some of the projects from these areas. Notable ones were the upcoming Flevo Campus in Almere region of Amsterdam, a vertical farming project to reuse an old prison and evidence based food system design. 

Cathy Kennedy | Manager of Policy and Intergovernmental Relations at the City of Guelph, Wellington, Canada und Barbara Swartzentruber l Executive Director of Strategy, Innovation and Intergovernmental Relations at the City of Guelph, Wellington, Canada

(f.l.t.r.: Stephan Becker-Sonnenschein, Barbara Maly, Dr. Steven Newmaster, Timothy Nelson, Anne Toner-Fung, Cathy Kannedy, Barbara Swartzentruber, Dr. Maria Corradini, Bruno Wiest)

Cathy Kennedy and Barbara Swartzentruber presented their vision for the city of Guelph in Canada's Ontario region to become Canada's first circular food economy. Their vision for food circularity was born out of the national level competition for Smart Cities Challenge launched in Canada. Their focus on the food sector was inspired by the fact that food brings people together and is the soul of the society, and because they are based in an agricultural region. By 2025, the city of Guelph aims to achieve their 50x50x50 campaign - 50% increase in access to affordable, nutritious food, 50 new business and collaboration opportunities in the food sector, and 50% increase in economic revenues by reducing and reimagining food waste. They intend to create a system level change through initiatives like the Circular Food Economy Innovations Hub, the Harvest Impact Fund and skills and training for the new food economy. 

Peter Verstrate | CEO Mosa Meat, Maastricht, Netherlands

Peter began by sharing the story behind the inspiration to make cultured meat commercially viable. Mosa Meat started its journey in 2013 when they unveiled the world's first slaughter-free hamburger at a press conference in London. Since then, they have made several scientific breakthroughs and brought down the price of meat considerably. They are now focussed on scaling up process and getting their first products in the market in 3-4 years. Peter also answered several important questions around health-related issues and potential harmful effects of consuming cultured meat. He also mentioned that he does not anticipate any issues in obtaining regulatory licences from the EU and that it does not qualify as GMO.

Dr. Andreas Blüthner | Director Food Fortification and Partnership, BASF

Dr. Andreas Bluethner is Director of the Food Fortication initiative at BASF. BASF implements several fortication programmes in Africa. Andreas explained that 53% of the African population lack Vitamin A. In order to tackle such problems, he mentioned that food fortification is a shared value business and partnership model. He further explained how urbanization is going to increase considerably in developing countries and that it will be combined with an increase in poverty and malnutrition. Moreover, he emphasized on the importance of providing the right nutrition to children under the age of five years after which there would be permanent damages to the body. In this regard, and especially in Africa, food fortification has a high potential for scaling up in urban areas in developing countries. 

Dr. Georg Schirrmacher l Managing Director, Europäisches Innovations- und Technologieinstitut (EIT) Food Co-Location Center (CLC) Central in Munich/Freising

Dr. Georg Schirrmacher called for disruptive innovations in the food sector and highlighted the role of EIT Food's initiatives in enabling young ventures in this sector through investments to bring their technologies to the market. EIT Food is the biggest consumer-centric, open science innovation ecosystem and is building a strong base necessary to bring about change in the food system. He emphasized on the problems like the existence of fragmented supply chains, the lack of food transparency and the lack of entrepreneurial culture. There is a growing need for new companies bringing disruptive innovation to the market. Currently, only 3 out of 10 companies are able to bring their technologies to the market. EIT is aimed at creating an innovative space for solving the really complex societal challenges. He also highlighted how EIT Food connects the young ventures to well-established businesses as well as research and academia. In 2018, EIT Food has tangible results in terms of innovative prototypes, new startups and new business creation. 

Dr. S. M. Abdul-Awal | Professor at the Department of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Khulna University, Bangladesh & Fulbright Scholar & Beahrs ELP Alumni an der University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Abdul-Awal presented on the current situation of the Bangladesh economy vis-a-vis its agricultural sector and highlighted the need for agricultural alternatives in Bangladesh. He showcased a documentary on the FAO recognised heritage method of floating farms that is commonly practised in Bangladesh as a form of sustenance in the wake of rising floods, storms and other natural calamities due to climate change. Given the harmful effects of climate change on the agricultural economy of Bangladesh, he emphasized on the need for government level initiatives to promote alternative farming methods in the country.

Alexander Franke | Manager Business Development & Innovation K+S KALI GmbH

Alexander Franke presented K+S's support to initiatives in urban farming and how they see diversifying their business opportunities as a natural way to stay relevant to the changing landscape of agriculture. In 2017, K+S reformulated its corporate strategy taking into account the changing trends and the future possibilities in the food and agriculture sector. Being primarily a company that supports conventional agriculture through the sale of fertilisers, they decided to convert the future threats to business into opportunities by foraying into urban farming innovation. K+S establishes innovation labs where topics like urban farming and vertical farming are researched. He highlighted K+S's urban farming app that provides users information about what kind of urban farming ventures exist around them. He mentioned how Singapore is an interesting city where urban farming potential is very high and also showcased K+S's initiatives in urban farming in Singapore.