The Future of Food @ STHLM Tech Fest

After seeing flying cars and energy stored in salt, the focus of the 2017 Stockholm Tech Festival fell upon the future of food. A topic that is fairly unique on a stage of high-tech and innovation – however it’s a sector ripe from disruption – “Tech is really needed in this sector” said Johan Jörgensen from the Swedish Food Tech Alliance, “ they still use fax machines!” 

The big question was how we are going to feed 10 billion people by 2050 in a healthy and environmental friendly way. Companies like Oatly are trying to give answers by encouraging the consumer to turn towards more sustainable alternatives to cow milk, namely a milk made from oats with the advantage of avoiding intensive livestock farming, long processes and a high need for natural resources. 

How Oatly positions itself within the food industry.

With an aggressive and humorous marketing, featuring slogans like “Our diet is f*ck’d”, Oatly brings sustainable consumerism to a new level. CEO Tony Petersson asks everyone to build organisations on a global scale, to think innovatively and to make a drastic change when it comes to the food system we find ourselves in. Young companies like Matsmart and Karma are concentrating on the reduction or avoidance of food waste, by developing online tools which reduce waste along the value chain, but presented in a way which is highly user-friendly. 

No question, there are good ideas out there. Nevertheless, common agreement was that bottom up approaches are there but top down is also needed in unison.

So what is the future of food going to look like?

  1. The bulk of the population is going to eat plant-based; 
  2. Humans as well as animals will be fed by insects; 
  3. Every little bit of waste is going to be reused in some way or the other; 
  4. Food will be delivered by drones; 
  5. Urban farming is going to be a major contributor to food supply; 
  6. With the help of Artificial intelligence we are going to be able to check the tomato on our plate for nutrients, pesticides and even for equity and exploitation in the value chain. 

Regarding to the presenters of the day this might be a possible future scenario we should strive for. Nevertheless, Gustav Brandberg from Gullspang Invest reminds us of the difficulties we are going to face, for example when we think of those countries that just have come to the taste of meat and are not longing for a plant based diet. 

So how do we reach this idyllic place?  Northzone's Partner Jessica Schultz emphasizes the importance of raising awareness of the population through early education and clever PR to clarify the choices among the consumers. 

We already have artificial meat and bug burgers, but we are still waiting for the next generation of food to come and to surprise us. 

Panel discussion, The Future of Food 

It became clear during these events at the STHLM Tech Fest, that the food system needs entrepreneurs, brave ideas and appropriate tech, as well as collaboration among different stakeholders in order to enable the world’s population with access to a healthy diet in a sustainable way.