Evoking competition to ensure food security, food safety and sustainability

4th Global Food Security, Food Safety and Sustainability Conference

May 10-11, 2019 – Montreal, Canada

Conference Report

Shelley Kotze attended The 4th Global Food Security, Food Safety and Sustainability conference convened this May in Montreal, Canada, with this year’s theme being ‘Ensuring food security through sustainable agriculture and food safety.
I attended as a representative of the Urban Rural Gothenburg Research Forum to promote and discuss the work that the forum has been conducting with regards to City-Region Food Systems, with specific acknowledgement to projects currently underway in Gothenburg.

Both speakers and delegates were diverse in their geographies with representatives hailing from, for example, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the USA, Lebanon and Ghana. Given the breadth of the conference theme, the research topics discussed were also vast in their scope. Over the two days I gained knowledge in forecasting for sustainable investment in the Taiwanese pig farming industry; how NGOs are assisting SMEs in Africa gain HACCP certification to increase food safety; the impact of agrarian change on rural Lebanese communities’ food security and; the efforts that a five star hotel and restaurant group are making with regards to increasing food safety for their clients, but also in ensuring longer-term food security by making sustainable food choices are made available (and compulsory).

How can competition drive change through all aspects of food systems and how can it contribute to food safety, security and sustainability
One theme present through all the presentations was that of competition – how it can drive change through all aspects of food systems and how it can contribute to food safety, security and sustainability? Monetary benefits and competition for business was cited often as a driver for change towards increased food safety, particularly for small- and medium-sized business owners (both in agricultural production and processing) who lacked the acumen and skills to meet stringent regulations that would need to meet to supply large distributors. One keynote lecture also highlighted how a new system for bidding within wholesale markets was providing a fairer price to the producer by introducing ‘gaming tactics’ and competition among buyers. For those speakers from the food industry competition meant a way of differentiating themselves within their relative markets, even when the changes resulted in significant economic cost, for example, removing shark fin from all their menus.
The conference as a whole was a really interesting and informative experience. Given the broad discussion that was had around evoking and prioritising competition within this environment this is something I will be taking back to the Urban Rural Gothenburg project and relaying to my colleagues. That although it is important to acknowledge that many individuals and businesses invest time and money into food safety, security and sustainability as it is the moral and ethical thing to do, this acknowledgement needs to be accompanied by the recognition that competition also plays an important role in driving change. 

Read Abstract Can a city feed itself Kotze Dymitrow Ingelhag Montreal 2019

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