Ideas for the food system of tomorrow
Forward thinker and Networker
Food tech can point out new, sustainable paths and, at the same time,turn the entire food system on its head. » «
As Head of Food Innovation and FoodTech at METRO GROUP, Fabio Ziemßen deals with questions about the present and future food system. His mission: to work with start-ups, scientists and other visionaries to find innovative technologies to take on such challenges as securing the food supply for a growing world population. Ziemßen actively promotes dialogue and the search for solutions both on his website efood-blog.com and in his roles as co-organiser of events like the 2016 Next Generation Food conference.
When Fabio Ziemßen thinks about food, it is only rarely about his own lunch. Rather, on behalf of METRO GROUP, he examines topics and trends that extend far beyond the plate in front of him. Yet many of the questions he deals with begin, so to speak, right at the table. How do we feed ourselves today? How will we do so in the future? How can we use the resources of our planet sustainably enough to support billions of people over the long term? And to what degree can innovative technologies help us achieve this?
“It is indispensable that we in the commercial sector grapple with these questions and redefine our own role,” says Ziemßen, “because in the future, today’s food system and value chain will cease to exist as we know them.” Challenges like global population growth, urbanisation and excessive resources consumption are already pushing the system to its limits. “Food tech – the fusion of food and technology in various parts of the value chain – can point out new, sustainable paths and, at the same time, turn the entire food system on its head.”
At some point the question won’t just be where you can order something, but where you can have it made. Or even how you can produce it yourself. » «
A prime example of this is the concept of indoor farming, which makes consumers into self-sustaining food producers. “This is definitely one of the major trends in the food tech sector,” Ziemßen explains. “With this technology, anyone can grow food right where it is eaten – with low resource input and 100 per cent transparency with respect to its origins. That’s a forward-looking approach to healthily feeding millions of people particularly in megacities.”
Equally promising in his view are ideas and models for the circular economy, “such as using organic waste, for example fungi, algae or insects, to generate new products or even packaging.” Ziemßen also sees the 3D printing of foodstuffs, on the basis of sensory measurements of individual nutrient requirements, as a future technology with potential.
The market is still modest in scale. Start-ups and visionaries in, especially, the United States, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany are exploring ideas for the future of our food system. Linking these, creating forums for dialogue, sharing knowledge and using ideas in commerce in targeted ways – these will remain exciting challenges for Fabio Ziemßen.