Staggeringly, the world's food needs are expected to double by 2050. Globally, we will need new methods of producing enough food for rapidly expanding populations that make more of what we have while minimizing the environmental impact.
On 2 September, a hybrid seminar of ministers, industry, and entrepreneurs from Singapore and Iceland, discussed "The future of food" online and at the Harpa Concert Hall in downtown Reykjavík. The speakers presented shared experiences and various perspectives and approaches to meeting our future food needs. One of the main takeaways from both places is that innovation and biotechnology will be crucial for meeting increasing demands. To put this into perspective, we are only 28 growing seasons away from 2050.
More than five hundred people on two continents watched the live broadcast of the meeting. The issues are urgent and relatable to Singapore and Iceland, both small fishing nations without much arable farmland. "Now everyone needs to work together to achieve the set goals," said Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Iceland's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation. Many speakers repeated the theme of cooperation at the event.
Although Singapore and Iceland are separated by half a world away, there is a strong connection between the countries to work together for the future of food production. There are tremendous challenges but also enormous opportunities for innovative companies in both countries. Examples of food innovations from Shiok Meats of Singapore and Iceland-based ORF Genetics and Marel highlighted new ways of making foods with less environmental impact and better processing.
"Innovation that improves food production is vital and links sustainability and economic progress. We will need to increase business and collaboration between our most qualified scientists to share their knowledge," says Þórðarson.
One of the best ways to encourage collaboration, according to Pétur Þ. Óskarsson, managing director of Business Iceland (Íslandsstofa), is to build collaborative "knowledge bridges" with other countries. There is a wealth of ideas and inspiring new technologies out there. Disseminating the know-how and connecting people with new ideas to address their local challenges will help address the many food challenges.
"Icelandic high-tech companies have developed solutions that are important for world food production to be sustainable. There are exciting times ahead, and we look forward to increasing expansion into foreign markets. Connecting and working with entrepreneurs in Singapore opens a dialog to exciting opportunities that are important to seize," says Óskarsson.
A recording of the meeting is now available on Business Iceland's website. The "Future of food" presents a clear picture of innovation from both countries and how we can address future food production collaboratively.
Video of the seminar is available here: The Future of Food - Business Iceland