Only together we can shape the future of food
The international and independent platform Foodvalley NL has been a major driver of the sustainable food system since 2004. Her role has developed over the years. While Foodvalley NL used to offer a stage to innovative agri-food organisations, the organisation is now acting as a catalyst for transition. Why? Because the food system has to change more rapidly if we want to have tasty, affordable, healthy and sustainable food available for 10 billion people by the year 2050. Food that should be produced while respecting the animals and our planet.
Marjolein Brasz, our Managing Director, explains how Foodvalley sets the agenda for this structural change.
“Our task is, throughout and beyond the chain, to bring the right parties together and support and accelerate those innovations that have the most impact. For there is no time to waste. We join hands with companies and organisations that prioritise food system innovations, or that would like to prioritise those. That is why Foodvalley has set up a number of challenging Innovation fields and offers a wide range of Innovation support.
We at Foodvalley know, of course, that you cannot change the food system in a single day. We’re not here to dictate what you should stop doing, but we do challenge organisations to think about alternatives. It’s hard for existing companies to radically change course, but entrepreneurs who set up something new, can surely opt for sustainability. Think about how they can inspire and learn from each other. We are building a counter system this way, and are slowly dismantling the old food system.
Interventions that accelerate innovations
A great deal of good is happening, but the transition is moving slowly and the changes should be more radical. In order to speed up the process, Foodvalley focusses even more on the long term. What state should the ecosystem be in by the year 2030? What is being done now and what more should be set in motion if we are to reach our common goal? The next step is to draw up an inventory of which interventions are needed and which parties will pursue those interventions, either with or without our support.
To increase the change of a successful intervention, Foodvalley involves the right parties at an early stage. Retailers, investors, researchers… Everyone who could have a stake in that new service or new product should join. Foodvalley NL decides its level of involvement per initiative. Are we just going to keep an eye on things or are we going to push the cart? Foodvalley never takes someone’s place, though.
Foodvalley guides and connects
Foodvalley sets the agenda, keeps the pace, guides and connects. We do not grow or produce anything ourselves, we do not sell and we do not engage in research. The multitude of organisations and members in our ecosystem do, however. This is a global network of a few thousand companies and organisations, working daily – in cooperation and solo – at innovations and at transitioning the food system. It is a wide network, with passionate members. From corporates to start-ups, from farmers to retailers and governmental organisations, educational and research institutes, at various levels of entrepreneurship and from all kind of branches. The ideal situation for cross-fertilisation and growth.
Unburdening the front runners
All these parties from the food industry already focus on innovation. It’s just that they sometimes do not know how to find the right partners, and the right means. Also, there are quite a lot of companies that do not have the sustainable food system as a part of their policy just yet, but that have begun thinking about it.
There is a certain risk to pioneering, we are well aware of that. That is why Foodvalley offers the ecosystem an international network with inspiring partners, unique facilities and knowledge, the most talented people and options for funding. That is how we support and unburden the front runners. And still, that’s not all we do.
Three Innovations fields that make a difference
At the moment, Foodvalley NL is concentrating on three Innovation fields:
- Protein Shift,
- Circular Agrifood
- Food & Health.
The topics range from the search for alternative proteins for human consumption to cultivating crops that are more resistant to cold and draught. How we can stop food being wasted and start recycling more? How we can get the whole chain to help make the healthy choice the easy choice for everyone?
Our Innovation Leads are experts in their fields. They know the market and the players and have a way of creating win-win situations that benefit our mission as well as companies and organisations.
Five ingredients to success
To speed up the transition to a more sustainable food system, Foodvalley has formulated five ingredients to success. These are practical and inspiring activities that members are eager to use in order to boost their innovations.
Here we show literally which (testing) facilities are available worldwide and how companies and organisations can use them cost-efficiently. This information is shared nowhere else. Foodvalley shows what is out there and which facilities are needed, and collaborates with the ecosystem to work out the funding.
This ingredient is the answer to a vital question: ‘How we can attract and train unique, specific talents, brainboxes and the up-and-comers, and get them involved long-term with the reformation of the food system?’
What’s going on in the Innovation fields? Who is having bright ideas and how do we make sure they get the means and skills to make a successful contribution to the transition? Together with the ‘incubator’ StartLife and acceleration programme Scaleup Food we prep the pioneers to be investor-ready.
Foodvalley NL has its roots in the region, is of national importance and has international ambitions. Because of our many global connections it is possible to expand to other markets and seek international cooperation.
Working at the transition together will remain a human job, but Foodvalley is about to reveal a smart data system that contains all relevant and up-to-date data and knowledge, trends and developments. It also lists the stakeholders in the food system (from investors to entrepreneurs). This way, it becomes even easier to make connections.
Working together like in a flock
Collaboration makes it easier to join in, and it gives you energy. We compare the ecosystem that is trying to transition the food system to a flock of starlings. Every single starling knows exactly what to do. And they all need each other to make progress. This interplay is called murmuration. Sometimes you follow, sometimes you lead. The result is always a sight to behold and it’s often very effective. If you want to manage a flock of starlings, you need to keep track of everything that is going on – and that is precisely the unique role of Foodvalley.
Only together we can shape the future of food
The earlier mentioned cross-fertilisation is a precondition for success. It is not without reason that Foodvalley's mission is "Shaping the future of food together". We have to work together in different ways than we are used to, with partners we don’t know (yet). If you do what you always did, you get what you always got. Foodvalley reaches out to all branches, for it is the unlikely collaboration that can produce the best results. And we share the insights we gain through those collaborations with the network.
Transparency, honesty and an open mind are essential. Get off the well-trodden path, leave your little island, that is the only way change is possible.
Our invitation for collaboration
There are a thousand ways to join the global transition. Do you have a test kitchen for start-ups to use so they can experiment? Have you done some ground-breaking research that you would like to validate? Are you an expert and brimming with knowledge to share with our members?
Welcome! Our door is open to anyone with the right energy and mentality who wants to help with the transition. Investors, consumers, scientists, healthcare professionals… We’re not shutting out anyone and all options are open.
The only thing we plan to change the coming years, is to get a firmer grip on the steering wheel so we won’t arrive late at our destination.”