First Primoris debate tastes like more
Primoris wants to contribute actively to the improvement of food safety, product quality and sustainability. Knowledge and expertise are at the root of our activities and we want to go into discussion with our customers and other stakeholders in the agro food chain about future trends and developments.
Therefore, on Thursday 20 September 2018, Primoris organized its first interactive debate with live voting, entitled Reflection on the role of food integrity in evolving food systems
The scene was set by Dr. Pieternel A. Luning (Associate Professor in Food Quality Management, Wageningen Universiteit & Research) and Prof. dr. ir. Liesbeth Jacxsens (Ciboris vzw and Ghent University, Department of Food Technology, Food Safety and Health).
Food integrity is capturing more than only traditional elements of food and nutrition security, such as food safety and quality. Other elements such as impact on the ecosystem and social wellbeing of both consumers or employment in the agro food chain are getting more important in future-oriented food systems. Within food integrity a shift is made from product related characteristics (such as quality, safety, nutrition) towards how the food is produced (in an ecological and social acceptable manner).
The combination of these three elements (being food safety/quality, ecosystem and social wellbeing) in a food system may lead to opportunities as well as conflicting situations. For instance, if we apply less fungicides (which is beneficial for the ecosystem), can we than expect more problems related to mycotoxins and moulds? Or what if we want to source year around fresh produce, do we need to purchase in regions where social wellbeing of the farmers are less respected?
To reflect about this actual topic, we invited inspiring panel members representing different sectors (supply to food chain, primary production, processing and retail):
- Mr. Ronald Guendel, Global Head of Food Chain Relations at Bayer Division Crop Science
- Mr. Pieter Verhelst, Board member at Boerenbond, responsible for the macro-economic policy
- Mr. Luc Beerens, Global Sustainable Sourcing Director at Mars Food
- Mr. Bernard Haspeslagh, Group Crop Production Director at Ardo NV
- Mr. Pascal Léglise, Corporate Social Responsibility & Quality Sustainable Development Director at Carrefour Belgium
- Mr. Jean Van de Put (FoodBlue Consulting),food retail expert with over 21 years of experience within quality and purchase at executive level
These panel members each had their own vision on food integrity and how it can play a role in their business. Overall fact was the diversification and the fact that different food systems such as global food system and regional/local food system will be (and are yet) both present on the market. Consumers are more diverse and are more behaving diverse. So, therefore, multiple food systems and hybrids of food systems can be expected in the future in Europe. Some companies are aiming to introduce the three elements of food integrity in one food product and other companies are aiming to diversify food products (e.g. being produced in socially acceptable circumstances). However, product quality and safety is perceived as a NON-touchable property and the taste, convenience of the consumer is always priority. Each of the panel members is working on food integrity, often combined within the sustainability policy of the company. Projects are running with local suppliers, global suppliers to improve the food integrity situation. However, it was mentioned that as long a price/productivity will be a driven factor, food integrity will be difficult to achieve, so other priorities need to be set within organisations. One of the panelists was mentioning: “food integrity means that you need to do what you say and say what you do, and you need to assure this, and include data integrity”.
It was clear from the panel debate that organisations and companies along the agro food chain are looking for opportunities for diversification in products and communication towards their customers/consumers on the new food integrity topic.
Parallel to questions to the panel, also questions were addressed to the audience. Remarkable was the question on which of the three elements in food integrity seems to have still the most evolution in the coming years and still needs the most effort to be achieved. Product quality, safety received 16%, social wellbeing 20% and ecosystem 63%. The majority of the audience was evaluating food integrity as being important and challenging in the coming years to be further implemented in the food chain.
More images can be viewed here.
We want to thank all panel members, speakers and the audience for participating at this first edition of the Primoris debate. If you have any suggestions about topics, please let us know. You can send these topics via firstname.lastname@example.org.