For a summary of each of the 2021 Future of Food Symposium sessions use the links below, videos of the sessions will be shared soon.

Keynote speakers

Fareshare: Fighting Hunger, Tackling food waste

Panel debates:

  1. What enable and constrained community food groups during the pandemic?
  2. Logos and logistics: The challenges and opportunities of certifying food production
  3. Mandatory food waste reporting for businesses: Opportunities, challenges and implications

Paper presentation tracks:

Track A: The evolving crisis of food waste from farm to fork
Track B: Key issues, challenges and solutions to food and nutrition insecurity
Track C: Digital platforms as sustainable food solutions
Track D: Alternative experiences of Producing consuming and eating
Track E: Sustainable Sourcing and ethical food production
Track F: Decision making in food supply chains: Transitioning to a circular economy

On the 8th and 9th of September 2021 the second The Future of Food Symposium was hosted online by the Centre for Business in Society, at Coventry University. The online event invited a range of stakeholders from businesses and society, including academics, local government representatives, community based organisations and food industry professionals to present, discuss and devise what a more sustainable, and resilient, food system looks like.

The symposium was a timely event given the increasing precarity that COVID-19 has brought to many people’s livelihoods and lifestyles, even in the world’s wealthier nations where weaknesses in food supply chains have been exposed. With current levels of global consumption and production considered to be unsustainable, transforming food supply chains must be placed at the centre of the road towards a more sustainable food system. This challenge, the road from post pandemic recovery to a resilient food system, set the scene for the 2021 Future of Food Symposium.

The symposium was opened by Zarah Sultana, MP for Coventry South. Zarah is a vocal advocate for tackling food poverty. For Zarah, going from recovery to resilience means ensuring good decent quality food for everyone where food is not a luxury, but a universal right.

The symposium featured four fantastic keynote speakers. Anna Davies, Professor of Geography, Environment and Society at Trinity College Dublin, presented a ‘manifesto for sustainable food sharing futures’. Discussing the findings from the Share City project, Anna explained the importance of exploring contemporary forms of food sharing. Such activities are making important contributions towards the pathway to more sustainable urban food systems.

Jamie Crummie highlights the issue of food waste

Jamie Crummie, Co-founder of the food-sharing app Too Good To Go, presented a powerful message that tackling food waste must be the focus of climate change tackling efforts. The third keynote speaker was Professor Moya Kneafsey. Her keynote speech focused on bringing to the table the concept of territorial food systems and their importance to the future of food. The final keynote speaker, Suzanne Higgs, Professor at the University of Birmingham focused on how eating together affects food consumption.

The event also offered the opportunity to highlight innovative research undertaken by CBiS researchers in partnership with FareShare Midlands, who have played a critical role in ensuring that people in need have been able to access food during the pandemic. The research team presented a short video documenting ‘behind the scenes’ footage which illustrated all the work required to get surplus food to people in need within communities.

Marsha Smith presents some of the reasons that constrained the response of community food groups during the pandemic

The symposium also featured three further panel debates where practitioner and industry experts discussed timely issues. The first panel concerned how businesses are working in accordance with the sustainable and ethical values signified by logos. There was a further panel debate that discussed what enabled and constrained the work of community food organisations during the pandemic. The third debate discussed the soon to be published legislation on mandatory food waste reporting for businesses.

The symposium also featured six thematic tracks of paper presentations that covered topics including food waste, food insecurity, digital platforms for redistributing surplus food, alternative food systems, sustainable sourcing and ethics, and the circular economy.

Overall, the symposium was a great success in providing a critical space to present and discuss a number of issues in looking at how the food system is recovering and moving forward in working towards a more resilient future. CBiS look forward to working with wider organisations in handing over the reins for the third Future of Food Symposium,

More information, including the videos of the symposium sessions, can be found on the website futurefoodsymposium.com

The symposium proceedings can be found here