Thursday last week at Danish Food Cluster event: A Great Day for Food Innovation, I received the Food Innovator Award 2019 – something I would like to acknowledge. It is a great honour to be acknowledged by the industry, and to receive such a beautiful and personal picture to bring home.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Danish Food Cluster for the emphasis they put on sustainability and innovation. As Danish Food Cluster’s CEO, Lone Ryg Olsen, mentioned in her introduction to the event, sustainability is a strong driver for innovation – I would like to turn this around. I believe that innovation is a strong driver for a sustainable world – a world where our food production is sustainable on three parameters: environmentally, economically and socially. However, I am not sure innovation is enough – there is probably also a need for disruption.
The value chain from farm to fork has great potential for disruption. Moreover, we need to prepare for the fact that many companies with an old business model are facing a strong disruption – from the inside and from the outside. When consumers hardly know how food is produced and put animal welfare, absence of pesticides, transperancy and local production higher than they have done for many years, we will soon see brand new players in the market and we will see the big old manufactors, wholesalers and retaiers becoming fewer and smaller. When consumers switch to more vegan and convenience food, and when there are between three and six operators touching our food without adding other value than transport there is great potential for producing food and serving consumers in new transparent and digital ways. This is what the innovators do.
The sustainability of packaging is something that consumers question and therefore it is great that KLS PurePrint is recognized for taking a journey towards more sustainable food packaging.
A young pressure for a sustainable primary production
But there is certainly also a need for disruption elsewhere. Sustainability and circular bio-economy have come to stay – because consumers want it, but mostly because the legislation and profitability show the way. There is a pressure from especially young people in relation to a more sustainable agriculture than what organic producers offer, because climate impact from agriculture is so significant and because biodiversity is important for everyone. The young people are demanding climate-neutral, sustainable production now, so there is a need for action – now.
Climate neutral: 2050 is not ambitious enough
It seems as if the traditional producers for a long time have burried their heads in the sand, hoping the green wave will pass and that some extra fertilizer could solve the problems, but that time is over. Therefore, it is wonderful with so many new business innovators, also in a Danish Food Cluster context, being part of the new food scene. It is also good that Arla and Danish Crown have a goal of climate-neutral production. I just don’t think that year 2050 is ambitious enough. It still leaves the challenges to the next generation. It takes courage to change ones’ ways of action – but there is great business potential in a clear, unified, sustainable, Danish agricultural and food production based on courageous choices. Therefore, I would like to pay a tribute to Danish Food Cluster and their platform for creating a network for innovation and sustainability – this is certainly the future. Thank you for sustainability.