Our second annual award-winning Food’s Future Summit was an exciting, knowledge-filled two-day event that gathered together some of the most progressive and influential global ground-breakers in the culinary and food-tech spheres to share where the future of food is headed. In one year, the Summit has already tremendously evolved, with the dialogue advancing into the world of lab-grown, in-vitro meats, “eating” data and using blockchain in the food chain.
Josh Tetrick, CEO of JUST
The Summit kicked off to a passionate start as Josh Tetrick, the co-founder of billion-dollar food-tech company JUST, detailed his journey to creating his first egg-free mayonnaise product in the U.S., to his mung bean eggs, to his recent roll-out across West Africa of a product called Power Gari—a fortified cassava porridge—to fuel those who suffer from malnutrition. Tetrick announced the company’s ambitious plans to launch “clean” meat—made from the cells of healthy living animals—by the end of this year. At the end of his inspiring speech, he unveiled the major announcement of his partnership with Hong Kong-based international start-up accelerator Brinc to provide entrepreneurs with a toolkit to create meaningful, sustainable products using JUST’s raw materials and R&D—like vegan butter and ice cream that work for local palates in Hong Kong and across Asia. Brinc will invest over HK$500,000 per team as well as provide access to their facilities at PMQ in Central, including Taste Library, which contains thousands of food-related tomes for research, ABC Cooking Studio, and pop-up incubator Taste Kitchen, to help early-stage companies who want to disrupt the current broken food system with their plant-based products—aiding with everything from product development and consumer testing through to marketing and distribution. All of this ties in with Tetrick’s ultimate goal of achieving a global sustainable food system. Tetrick explained the partnership as “using capitalism to make a difference”, reiterating, “If you want to solve the world’s biggest problems, do it through business.”
How Sweden Designs Our Food’s Future panel
Tetrick’s keynote speech segued into coverage of a familiar panel topic from last year, The Big Gamble, an exploration of food investment with Brinc CEO Manav Gupta, Dan Pathomvanich, CEO of NR Instant Produce, and Donna NguyenPhuoc of SPARQ Capital, who shared their insights on the future of food investment.
Panellists from our inaugural feature country—Sweden—detailed their observations about the world of food and how, as a nation, they are leading the way in designing a positive food cycle by supporting new businesses within their country, stating, “Sweden is a great place to fail. The government supports you and helps you to try again.”
Dining in 2030 panel with Michelle Garnaut, Uwe Opocensky, Jowett Yu, and May Chow
Our Dining in 2020 panel last year discussed the possibility of alternative proteins reaching our plates in restaurants in the future. One year later, we looked further ahead to Dining in 2030 with a collection of high-profile chefs and restaurant owners including Chef Uwe Opocensky of Beef & Liberty and his eponymous eatery Uwe, veteran restaurateur Michelle Garnaut of M Restaurant Group, Jowett Yu of Black Sheep Restaurants (notably Ho Lee Fook) and local sensation May Chow of Little Bao. Last year, alternative proteins were just being introduced to restaurants in Hong Kong, but they have now escalated to being the talk of the town, having been implemented on many restaurant menus around town. The panel shared their opinions on this subject as well as their thoughts on technology, sourcing, the phenomenon of chefs as lifestyle ambassadors, the importance of social media in a restaurant’s success and what the future’s ideal dining scene might look like. May established the need for restaurants in Hong Kong to explore creativity within a new model for dining, like the evolution happening in Copenhagen, one that requires less labour without compromising on the hospitality experience.
Foodie goodie bags
A panel of enlightened individuals informed the audience on what it takes to sustain a sustainable business coupled with the realities of commercial success, with panellists from Circular Community HK, forward-thinking restaurant group Maximal Concepts, LILY FLD, which is renowned for its fully-biodegradable single-use drinking straws, handmade cosmetics pioneer LUSH, and the Director of Sustainability at The Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotels group, including The Peninsula, Janice Lao. They discussed the ongoing challenges to creating sustainable options that are simple and convenient so that consumers don’t feel a negative change.
We were educated on how nanotechnology and new science are shaping our dining experiences and delved into charting the applications and opportunities of data, both big and personal, in our dining scene. An information-intense panel called Blockchain in our Food Chain explored how this technology is being utilised within the food industry to solve problems with everything from labelling to food safety. Tomaž Levak, CEO of OriginTrail, broke down the heart of blockchain, explaining, “In essence, it’s all about trust—a societal innovation of what do we accept as the truth.”
JUST Egg scramble with mushrooms and truffle
We delved further into the subject of alternative proteins and whether they will ever become mainstream. The informed and engaging panellists provided a lively debate on the possibility of a future featuring plant-based, GMO, and lab-grown meat substitutes. PizzaExpress Hong Kong have put the first JUST Egg pizza on their menu and spoke of the huge positive response they have received to their Beyond Chicken pizza, signifying the valuable financial appeal to a greener food product. The Butchers Club has also introduced Beyond Meat to its menus, with owner Ricky Lai expressing honestly that initially, it was done as a marketing promotion. But their ethos of providing the best-quality products to their customers has seen plant-based meat become one of these products. The director of Green Monday, Jenny Ng, said that although they want to champion a vegetarian lifestyle, “There are people who miss the texture and aroma of meat. We want to supply and explore alternative proteins and start the movement here in Hong Kong.” MANA! founder, Bobsy Gaia, declared, “This is not a trend. This is a change of consciousness. I wish it had happened 30 years ago, as we really are now in a big, big mess. But now the change is huge and growing exponentially, and without social media, this change wouldn’t be accelerating in this way.”
Vendors at the Marketplace
We then took on the subject of gourmet dining outside restaurants, discussing the ever-evolving operating models for eating out beyond four walls, debating delivery options and festivals with food kiosks. We also checked in with the younger generation to discover what makes them decide to dine where they do and what drives them to indulge in ‘grammable grub.
Saturday’s agenda held a jam-packed schedule that spanned from hacking food’s future, to the worries of food safety, to the future of protein. We worked on going from waste to wealth and explored how various waste outputs could become valuable resources. We also dove deep into the world of seafood and what can be done about the pressing issue of 90 percent of the world’s oceans being overfished—and the very stark reality that we may run out of fish by as soon as 2045. We ended the day by focusing on the future of waste and the solutions currently possible for Hong Kong.
If this all sounds like heavy stuff, it is. The challenges are clear: the planet cannot sustain our current consumption trends and we have to find a way to feed the future. We must utilise the technology of tomorrow to start changing our diets today. But it’s also exciting. The wheels of undoing the dire problems we’ve created and resetting the food cycle with innovation and technology are already in motion. The Food’s Future Summit 2018 highlighted what’s being done now as well as the potential for change within the industry. It’s inspiring to think that soon our dinner plates could be built of completely different foods than what appears on them now. We, at Foodie, cannot wait to find out what the next chapter holds.
Missed the Summit this year? Join in next year for an even bigger and more thought-provoking Summit than ever before! More info at www.foods-future.com.
We would like to thank our amazing partners and supporters:
Consulate General of Sweden, Hotel ICON, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University—School of Hotel and Tourism Management, InvestHK, Absolut, Bakehouse, Choice Healthy Foods, Classified Group, Caterierge, Food Folk, Green Monday, Gafell, Happy Cow, Impossible Foods, Invisible Kitchen, Oatly, Pear & Carrot, The Coffee Academics, Seven Brews, and Wine's Link, Biorna Quantics, Choose Right Today, Dishtag, Little Sweetness, Minor Figures, Oklin, Sabatino Tartufi, Umami Concepts, Urban Grow, Business Sweden, Bite Society, Campfire, Circular Community Hong Kong, Compare Retreats, DISH Global Centre for Food Safety and Quality, Duni, Eatology, Expat Living, Food Safety Consortium, Femalentrepreneurs Worldwide, Flux Compass, Garage Society, Green Common, Green Queen, Green Is the New Black, International Culinary Institute, Liv Magazine, Localiiz, LUSH, Macau Lifestyle, Melee, Metta, MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node, Try Swedish, Vocational Training Council, WeWork, Wild Roots, WHub and Zegal.