Vitafoods 2023 highlights: Sustainability

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sustainability vitafoods Collagen food system climate action Consumer attitudes Ethical consumerism Sourcing

Prioritising sustainability is a necessary step towards building a more resilient food system for future generations, and one which many companies at Vitafoods 2023 were keen to acknowledge.

Exhibitors and presenters at the show agreed making sustainability a priority is crucial for protecting the planet, conserving resources, mitigating climate change, promoting human health, and meeting consumer demand.

Delegates saw a presentation by Ana Morão, principal scientist at Corbion Algae Ingredients​, in which she acknowledged Corbion’s duty to contribute to climate preservation, recognising its crucial role in facilitating the shift towards a zero-carbon economy. 

The audience heard how Corbion is focusing on three of the UN’s 12 Sustainability Development Goals​ (SDGs), targeting: the elimination of hunger; good health and wellbeing; and responsible consumption and production.

The firm provides consumers with low-carbon algae products. As the primary source of long-chain omega-3s in marine environments, Morão argued algae holds significant importance in alleviating strain on overexploited ocean resources and guaranteeing the highest quality of nutrition for expanding global population.

The same stage also played host to Deborah Vorhies, CEO of FairWild​, the organisation focused on the protection of wild plants and those who collect and trade in them.

Vorhies explained their mission to protect plant species and local wildlife from the effects of over-harvesting and make sure local collectors enjoy fair working conditions.

She stated: “In order to conserve the landscape, in order to conserve our biodiversity, we have to use it, but have to use it sustainably. We have to be providing social economic, and environmental benefits for people and the planet by using it.”

Explaining the need for sustainability in all forms, she continued: “The fact is, there are a lot of wild harvesters out there, often very, very poor people, who rely on what they do with these wild plants for their health and income.”

Many exhibitors mirrored the sentiment, with NutraIngredients Sustainability Initiative of the Year 2023 award winners Marinova organic fucoidan​ holding a stand at the show. 

Amanda Mackinnon, Marinova’s marketing and communication director told NutraIngredients: “We feel the push driven by consumers for natural ingredients at a certified organic and sustainably sourced and also supported by rigorous science.”

She explained that while consumer desire for sustainable products is growing, challenges remain for those in the industry striving to meet them. 

She explained: “One of the challenges that we see looming is the need for sustainability accreditations to be standardised around the globe.”

The next step, she continued, is for industry to "come together and make it easy for consumers and companies alike to identify fairly high-quality ingredients.”

This was an attitude also expressed by Joris Dewit, executive director and head of dosage form solutions for Lonza​, as he noted the areas of sustainability they were tackling as a company.

He explained that Lonza’s priority in sustainability was reducing carbon footprint by reducing transport times, thanks to its global network of production facilities.

Florencia Moreno, health and nutrition market analyst at Rousselot​, also told NutraIngredients that their priority was sustainably serving customers. 

She explained that their flagship product, collagen peptides, come from discarded, raw material, stating: "If it was not used and reprocessed by us... then it most likely would be wasted"

She noted that much of the issue in being a sustainable company lies in the communication, saying: “Our challenges are that we want to assure the industry that where our raw material is coming from, is a trusted source.”

“We are putting a lot of effort and a lot of attention in making sure that our supply chain, that our traceability is in the best shape possible.”

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