Futureproofing the Food System

Watch this week: FoodNavigator-USA’s digital summit explores trends in food-tech, food as medicine and the circular economy

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Watch this week: FoodNavigator-USA’s digital summit explores trends in food-tech, food as medicine and the circular economy

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This week, join FoodNavigator-USA and stakeholders across the supply chain, including Eat Just, The Hartman Group, Oishii, NotCo, Instacart, NIQ, Consumer Brands Association, FMI – The Food Industry Association, Cargill and more for our three-day Futureproofing the Food System digital summit.

During the free-to-attend summit​ Nov. 14-16, we will explore how the food and beverage industry is innovating, producing and distributing products in a way that is better for the health of people and the planet.

During the three-day virtual event, we will explore three themes through a combination of fireside chats and panel discussions from stakeholders​ from across the supply chain, including modern day farms (think climate controlled agriculture, bioreactors and molecular farms as well as more conventional fields or forests), innovative entrepreneurs (including women making products for women across life stages and a clinically trained cardiologist prescribing food for heart health) and public health advocates who are working with legislators, insurers and others to make healthy eating more accessible.

Each day will be broken into two bite-sized sessions around 90 minutes, so you register ​for the whole thing, or mix and match the sessions in which you are most interested. Choose from:

  • Nov. 14: Food Tech in Focus ​(setting realistic expectations for food tech, understanding how consumers think about food science and exploring how AI and digital technologies are impacting food production)
  • Nov. 15: Food As Medicine ​(the crossroads of nutrition, health & equity and how stakeholders are meeting the evolving demand for ‘healthy’)
  • Nov. 16: The Circular Economy ​(safely navigate shifting sustainability expectations and claims, and understanding what sustainable sourcing really means)

DAY ONE Nov. 15: Food Tech In Focus

FIRST SESSION: Setting Realistic Expectations

PANEL: Delivering on the promise of cellular agriculture, precision fermentation and molecular farming to create more sustainable proteins​ – Between FDA and USDA greenlighting the sale of cultivated chicken in the US, the ground-breaking of large-scale precision fermentation facilities and advances in molecular farming, 2023 has been a banner year for novel protein production. But the path forward for these technologies is far from clear with manufacturing backlogs and bottlenecks, additional regulatory hurdles, and a tightening investment landscape. We will explore how front-runners in this space continue to move forward, as well as consumer and investor appetites for evolving food-tech.

  • Irina Gerry​, CMO, Change Foods​,
  • Martin Salinas,​ chief technology officer, Moolec Science​,
  • Josh Tetrick​, co-founder and CEO, Eat Just​,
  • Paul Shapiro​, CEO and co-founder, The Better Meat Co.
  • MODERATOR: Elizabeth Crawford, ​senior editor, FoodNavigator-USA

PANEL: What is the consumer appetite for food tech? ​Advances in food-tech promise to produce food more ethically and sustainably than conventional methods, but consumers historically have shied away from the combination of science, technology, and food, with some worrying about the long-term health and environmental impacts of food-tech while others idealize ‘natural’ foods. But consumers could change their tune as they learn more about climate change and food insecurity. In this panel, industry leaders discuss the role technology plays in today’s food system, how consumer perceptions of food-tech are evolving and how industry can communicate with consumers in a scientifically accurate and digestible way, as well as what challenges lie ahead.

  • Daniel Russek​, CEO, Atarraya​,
  • Haven Baker​, co-founder and chief business officer, Pairwise​,
  • Laurie Demeritt​, CEO, The Hartman Group​,
  • Michael Seldon​, co-founder and CEO, Finless Foods
  • MODERATOR: Ryan Daily,​ senior correspondent, FoodNavigator-USA

SECOND SESSION: Separating Hype From Reality

FIRESIDE CHAT:Indoor farming’s moment of truth – ​Vertical farms promise to reduce the distance traveled and environmental impact of food from farm to plate – and in doing so offer consumers fresher, more nutritious options and retailers more stable supply and a better ESG proposition. But with high development and maintenance costs, including massive infrastructure and expensive tech demands, the industry is teetering on the edge of the trough of disillusionment. How should stakeholders in the nascent industry rethink their business models and offerings to lower their costs and improve their margins? What factors continue to fuel strategic investment and partnerships in the segment? And what is the value proposition for consumers?

  • Brendan Somervill​, co-founder and COO, Oishii
  • MODERATOR: Deniz Ataman​, deputy editor, FoodNavigator-USA

PANEL: From Fields To Fermentation: How AI and digital transformation are evolving the food and beverage industry ​Manufacturers and retailers are improving their technology stack through digital transformation strategies and AI to improve operations and address historical food and beverage challenges from ingredient shortages and reformulations to predicting current and future market opportunities.

  • Manish Ghosh​, corporate vice president, industry strategy, consumer industries, Blue Yonder​,
  • Matias Muchnick​, co-founder and CEO, NotCo​,
  • Nick Markman​, director of product management, Evocalize​,
  • Sofia Elizondo​, co-founder and COO, Brightseed
  • MODERATOR: Deniz Ataman,​ deputy editor, FoodNavigator-USA

DAY TWO Nov. 16: Food As Medicine

FIRST SESSION: The crossroads of nutrition, health & equity

FIRESIDE CHAT: ‘Step One’ on the path to food as medicine – How to convince consumers and insurers of healthy eating’s potential​ – After 20 years of prescribing pills to help patients manage their heart health, John Hopkins-trained cardiologist Dr. Elizabeth Klodas found many of her patients felt worse from the drugs – even if their cholesterol and other numbers were better. Frustrated and ready for a new approach, she launched Step One Foods as a clinically proven ‘food as medicine’ alternative to the ‘pill for every ill’ culture. In this session, she shares how she developed and tested the efficacy of her snack bars, pancake mix, granola-like sprinkles and oatmeal packets, as well as how she is navigating FDA regulations that limit health claims on food and insurers’ reticence to cover treatments that are difficult to quantify.

  • Dr. Elizabeth Klodas​, founder and chief medical officer, Step One Foods​,
  • MODERATOR: Elizabeth Crawford,​ senior editor, FoodNavigator-USA

PANEL: Resetting the table to ensure equitable access to nourishing and sustainable food – ​Chronic diet-related diseases are among the leading causes of death in the US, especially among low-income communities without equitable access to healthy nutrition, and yet nutrition is often overlooked or left out of the health care system. Public health advocates and stakeholders across the food system, including retailers, delivery services and manufacturers, are working together to help more people access the nutritious food they need to live healthier. In this session, we explore the extent and impact of poor nutrition on health, accessibility issues, initiatives to measure and build evidence for a large-scale ‘food as medicine’ movement in the US and policy efforts to support healthy food as a covered benefit by insurers. We also look at barriers to equity and efforts to address them.

  • Devon Klatell​, vice president, Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation​,
  • Kevin Volpp​, MD, PhD​, director, Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavior Economics​,
  • Sarah Fleisch​, director, policy research & development, Instacart​,
  • MODERATOR:Elizabeth Crawford, ​senior editor, FoodNavigator-USA

SECOND SESSION: Meeting the evolving demand for ‘healthy’

FIRESIDE CHAT: How do consumers define healthy? ​More than half of Americans follow a specific diet with many seeking to lose weight, improve their appearance or protect their long-term health, and three-quarters believe what they consume impacts their emotional well-being, according to the International Food Information Council’s most recent Food and Health Survey. But how do they define ‘healthy’ and determine which products support their goals? And how do socio-economic factors influence their views and what they can access? In this session, IFIC unpacks consumer perceptions about health and nutrition, what drives their diet and purchase decisions, how their beliefs about food production and technology influences their selections and how social media and marketing impact them.

  • Kris Sollid​, senior director, nutrition communications, International Food Information Council​,
  • MODERATOR: Deniz Ataman​, deputy editor, FoodNavigator-USA

PANEL DISCUSSION: Innovating for Women’s Health: An unmet need with opportunities across categories and life stages – ​Women’s diverse nutritional needs have long been overlooked or pigeonholed to focus primarily on appearance, but a new class of products made by women, for women across life stages are on the rise as is research to support the development of sex-specific products. This panel explores why there is a dearth of products (and information) focused on women’s wellness, the market potential for foods and beverages to fill this gap, how physiological differences between men and women impact nutritional needs, and strategies for effectively marketing to modern women.

  • Sherry Frey​, vice president, Total Wellness, NIQ​,
  • Linda Alvarez, MD, ​co-founder and CEO, Levelle Nutrition​,
  • Julie White​, founder and CEO, MenoWell Menopause Bars
  • Wendy Colson​, founder and CEO, BOOBIE Superfoods
  • MODERATOR: Elizabeth Crawford, ​senior editor, FoodNavigator-USA

DAY THREE Nov. 16: The Circular Economy

SESSION ONE: Navigating shifting sustainability expectations and claims

FIRESIDE CHAT: What to expect from FTC’s updated Green Guides? ​The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing its Green Guides as more Americans weigh products’ environmental impact when shopping. Find out what types of claims are under the microscope, where industry would like more guidance and strategies to avoid greenwashing.

  • Lesli Esposito​, partner, McDermott Will & Emery​,
  • MODERATOR: Elizabeth Crawford, ​senior editor, FoodNavigator-USA

SPONSORED PRESENTATION by FoodChain ID: Fulfilling sustainability promises – How industry collaboration and independent verification builds consumer trust ​The sustainability of the food supply chain depends on all participants – from farms to processors to retailers – to collaborate and earn consumer trust. The presentation will introduce an industry initiative working on the rapidly changing needs for functional, recyclable and safe food packaging. Kevin will also examine the importance of an independent verification process to maintain transparency and trust with consumers regarding farm practices. His presentation will demonstrate how industry participants can work together to fulfill the promise of a sustainable food supply and a healthy planet.

  • Kevin Kenny​, senior vice president, compliance services, FoodChain ID

PANEL DISCUSSION: Sustainable Packaging: Balancing the health of the planet & people – ​What progress is the industry making on reducing the environmental impact of food packaging, and how are companies balancing food safety and shelf-life concerns with consumer demand for more earth-friendly options?

  • Andrea Fraboni​, vice president, BASES & neuro pack and design, global lead, NIQ,
  • Camille Herrera​, sustainability manager, Driscoll’s of the Americas​,
  • John Hewitt​, vice president of packaging sustainability, Consumer Brands Association,
  • Kevin Kenny​, senior vice president compliance services, FoodChain ID,
  • MODERATOR: Ryan Daily​, senior correspondent, FoodNavigator-USA

FIRESIDE CHAT: Making the most of biodegradable packaging – strategies for overcoming infrastructure limitations, boosting consumer participation​ Companies are looking to boost their ESG and reduce the environmental footprint with the help of several sustainable packaging types, including compostable packaging. However, regulatory hurdles are challenging the biodegradable packaging space, and consumer confusion around what is and isn’t compostable is creating other obstacles. So, how can industry come together to boost this aspect of sustainable packaging?

  • Rhodes Yepsen​, executive director, BPI,
  • MODERATOR: Ryan Daily​, senior correspondent, FoodNavigator-USA

SESSION TWO: What does sustainable sourcing really mean?

FIRESIDE CHAT: Navigating the legal minefield of sustainable & environmental market claims – ​Environmental claims are now ubiquitous in the marketplace from the chasing arrows indicating a product’s recyclability to emerging but hard-to-measure claims of ‘carbon-neutral,’ ‘sustainably-sourced,’ ‘regeneratively-farmed’ and ‘climate-friendly.’ How do consumers – and perhaps more importantly – regulators, consumer class action attorneys and competitors assess these claims?

  • Rachel Lowe​, partner, Alston & Bird​,
  • Sam Jockel​, senior associate, Alston & Bird
  • MODERATOR: Elizabeth Crawford,​ senior editor, FoodNavigator-USA

PANEL DISCUSSION: Creating resilient supply chains – From sustainable sourcing to ensuring worker welfare to balancing supply & demand – ​Global food supply chains have been stretched to – and occasionally past – the breaking point in recent years between the impact of COVID, climate change, inflation, mounting consumer ESG concerns and other macro-trends. Industry stakeholders from across categories and the value chain share how they are addressing these and other challenges, shortening and building redundancy into their supply chains and balancing supply and demand to effectively deliver on the needs of consumers, the planet and their businesses.

  • Carla Saunders​, senior marketing manager, Cargill​,
  • Doug Baker​, vice president, industry relations, FMI – The Food Industry Association​,
  • Lisa Curtis​, founder and CEO, Kuli Kuli Foods​,
  • Marc Diaz​, chief commercialization officer, Terviva​,
  • MODERATOR: Ryan Daily​, senior correspondent, FoodNavigator-USA

To find out more about this FREE EVENT, ​which is sponsored by FoodChain ID, Cargill, California Almonds, Benson Hill, and supported by LabVantage, click the links below:



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