After a three year absence, the Sustainable Foods Summit returns to San Francisco later this month. The North American edition will discuss approaches to encourage regenerative agriculture and upcycling in the food industry. It will be hosted at the Merchants Exchange Club on 25-26th January 2023.

Regenerative agriculture is receiving high interest because of its sustainability merits. It improves soil fertility, enhances biodiversity, sequestrates carbon, and can have socio-economic benefits. In the opening keynote, Professor David R. Montgomery from University of Washington will call for operators to adopt regenerative agriculture. Giving excerpts from his new book ‘What Your Food Ate’, he will highlight the link between healthy soil, nutritious foods, and personal wellness.

Elizabeth Whitlow from the Regenerative Organic Alliance will give an update on the Regenerative Organic Standard. Introduced in 2020, the standard has been adopted by 106 farms and 33,181 smallholder farms. Scaling up regenerative agriculture is a major barrier to higher adoption rates. Manal Elarab from Regrow will give guidance to operators looking at implementing regenerative agriculture solutions. Global Organics will explain how it is sourcing regenerative organic sugar from Brazil. Other topics include regenerative agriculture standards and marketing claims.

Upcycled foods is another focal theme. Many food and ingredient firms are investing in upcycling because it helps the industry make the transition to a circular economy: others are doing so to create new (upcycled) products from ingredients re-directed from waste streams. Pioneering firms involved in upcycled, including Re-Grained and Alvinesa Natural Ingredients, will share their experiences in product development and marketing.

Angie Crone, Interim CEO of Upcycled Food Association (UFA), will give an update on the Upcycled Certification Standard. Within two years of its launch, it has been adopted by over 200 ingredients and products. Ecovia Intelligence will present some of its latest research on the upcycled food market, including market trends, new product launches, as well as future growth projections. In a panel discussion, featured speakers will debate innovations: upcycling is creating efficiency by the valorization of existing raw materials, however how can it create new ingredients / products? How can innovation be encouraged?

Discussions will also cover Ingredient Innovations: details will be given of new and emerging ingredients that add sustainable value to food and beverages. Sonali Dalvi from OFI will discuss the growing ingredient needs for plant-based foods, such as drinks, snacks and meatless meals. Tessa Peters from The Land Institute and Peter Miller from Sustain-A-Grain will give insights into how they have created the Kernza grain from intermediate wheatgrass. Hailed as a super grain, Kernza is touted for its environmental and nutritional benefits. Ayana Bio and MeliBio will discuss the role of new technologies in creating botanical ingredients and bee-free honey respectively.

Industry experts will debate the role of precision fermentation. A growing number of operators are using precision fermentation to create animal-free and cultured foods; such products are marketed on their sustainability benefits. However, critics are calling for tighter regulations and transparency when using synthetic biology. What is the place of fermentation techniques in the sustainable food industry? How should products made according to precision fermentation be labeled? How can consumers be informed about such issues? Such questions will be addressed in a dedicated panel discussion.


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