What is cultured meat and who is it for? ProVeg’s New Food Conference, which will be held at the Anuga trade fair on October 10 and 11, aims to answer these and other questions. In this interview, Katleen Haefele, Head of Food Services and Events at ProVeg, provides insights into Europe’s first and largest conference on alternative proteins, and reveals a very exciting food sampling that will be available at the event.
Why is the New Food Conference being held in collaboration with Anuga this time?
Anuga is the world’s largest trade fair for food and beverages, and is an important barometer of the industry and its future. Plant-based foods and alternative proteins have experienced a real boom in recent years and the segment continues to grow, as evidenced by the plant-based presence at Anuga. Together with Anuga, we want to further advance innovation in the sector and continue to bring alternative proteins to the attention of the industry.
The event takes place both on-site and digitally. What are the differences?
The on-site event will take place on October 10 and 11 at the Congress Centrum Nord, as part of Anuga. Unfortunately, we are limited to around 110 participants on-site due to Corona protection measures. As we will soon be fully booked, we recommend securing on-site tickets while there are still some available.
At the same time, we will also broadcast the programme digitally and make it available on demand afterwards, in order to give people around the world the opportunity to participate in the New Food Conference. In this way, we can reach different groups of participants and ensure a vibrant exchange with our experts.
There are also some online-only programme items, including an online panel in which five female pioneers in the cultured-meat sector – from Singapore, Hong Kong, the US, and the Netherlands – will share with participants what excites them about the topic and how they envision the sector’s future.
What are some other highlights of the NFC programme?
I think it’s particularly exciting that we’re looking at cellular agriculture and plant-based milk alternatives from all kinds of perspectives: ethical and political, as well as in the context of animal agriculture. For example, we look at collaborations with cattle breeders and dairy farmers in which they can modernise their business models so that they are far less damaging to the environment and animals no longer have to suffer or die.
One of our guests is Nina Buffi, a long-time expert in the field of biotechnology in microsystems and microelectronics. This extremely complex and highly interesting topic is not only relevant to cultured meat, but also to various other processes such as cell therapy. To give our visitors an understanding of the technologies and possibilities, Nina will even bring along a small bioreactor. We are very excited about this!
We will also present Europe’s only producer of cultured fish so far: Sebastian Raker with his Germany-based company Bluu Biosciences, which could bring the first cultured-fish fingers to market as early as within the next two years.
And last but not least, a programme item that I am particularly looking forward to: we will host a tasting of cultured meat.
Wow. You can try cultured meat at the New Food Conference?
Yes, there will be an exclusive tasting for members of the public, presented by Israeli company MeaTech3D. Together with Belgian startup Peace of Meat, the two companies have developed a new product category of meat alternative that includes both plant-based and cultured ingredients. The end result is called hybrid meat and aims to provide consumers with the typical “meatiness” that they often miss in plant-based alternatives. Participants will get to experience the taste, smell, and texture of a cultured-chicken nugget that is entirely slaughter-free.
One final question: When will cultured meat enter the European market?
Cultured meat is already available today – although only in one country, so far. In December 2020, Singapore became the first country to approve sales of nuggets containing cultured chicken meat.
This approval is a milestone and it is only a matter of time before other countries, including here in Europe, follow suit. In Qatar, for example, work is underway on the world’s first cultured-meat production plant. So the topic is no longer a distant vision but is moving further and further into the mainstream. In 2020 alone, companies in the cultured-meat sector received nearly $350 million in funding. For 2021, it’s already $250 million so far.
Get your ticket now at www.new-food-conference.com
Online participation from €79 // 2-day on-site event from €249