New Food Conference webinar series: keeping the momentum going
Kathleen Gerstenberg 6 October 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic barely left any area of life untouched – and certainly not the work of event organizers. All ProVeg events, including the New Food Conference, have had to be postponed. In order to keep the food industry engaged and informed about the latest developments in the field of alternative protein, ProVeg spontaneously converted parts of the 2020 conference programme into a webinar series.
How we managed the New Food Conference 2020
In March 2020, we were busy with the last stretch of preparations in order to welcome food-industry professionals from all over the world to join us in Berlin at the New Food Conference, when suddenly the world went into lockdown. Taken by surprise and, along with most people, unable to grasp the scale of implications this looming pandemic was going to have on our work, we decided to postpone the event. The major goal of the New Food Conference, connecting people from all over the world, suddenly seemed like the most hazardous thing to do. Hopeful as we were, we picked August 2020 as a new date for the New Food Conference.
Adaptation is key: befriending digital solutions
While it soon became clear that it was far too optimistic to think that we would be able to host an international conference by August, we also realized that we could not allow the uncertainty of it all stop us from following our mission – to engage with the food industry, to introduce the developments and opportunities of alternative proteins to them, and to inspire them to be part of the rapid transformation of the food system that is currently taking place. And, so we quickly adapted and ventured into the digital realm. The result was that the New Food Conference webinar series was born.
Webinars are a great tool to continue important conversations while social distancing measures are in place. ProVeg now regularly facilitates new webinars on multiple topics, many of which are available as recordings afterwards.
Supply chains, startups, cellular agriculture – sharing insights from screen to screen
In a free five-part webinar series, speakers discuss a broad cross-section of topics that were initially going to be covered in the 2020 conference programme. Experts from business, science, and startup backgrounds embraced our invitation to share their experience in front of a screen instead of on a stage. The webinar series included topics such as developments in the flourishing startup scene, the role of functional ingredients in meeting and advancing consumer demands in the plant-based sector, and the progress of cellular agriculture, as well as a look at the plant-based market in India. The grand final was a fireside-chat with VBites-founder Heather Mills, who shared valuable advice from her over 20 years of experience as a successful entrepreneur in the sector, giving some profound insight into plant-based supply chains and the obstacles that arise when taking a product to market.
The agri-food sector must become more cost effective, resource efficient and nutritious if it is to meet the needs of today’s society. FI Global Insights report on the Smart Protein project.
Connecting the (food) world
More than 1,000 food industry professionals signed up, over 400 of whom joined the digital seminars live and shaped the conversations in enthusiastic Q&A sessions, and many more continue to return to the recordings of the life stream in order to get inspired and gain new insights into the rapid transformation of our food system. As precious as personal real-life encounters are, there is one distinct advantage to the digital formats: they enable us to reach a far broader audience, many of whom would not have had the time or means to travel to Berlin. This is a particularly valuable outcome, given how fast the alternative protein market is expanding, having long moved beyond its initial focus areas of North America and Europe.
The New Food Conference 2021
We are taking those learnings into the account as we shape next year’s conference. On 28 and 29 April 2021, the New Food Conference will take place as a hybrid event. In order to provide the benefits of personal meetings, we will host an on-site event in Berlin with key food-industry stakeholders of the, implementing a strict hygiene regime to ensure everyone’s safety. In parallel, we will create a digital platform in order to allow people from around the world to join the New Food Conference and connect with each other. Stay up-to-date by regularly checking in on our website or by signing up the ProVeg B2B newsletter. More details are coming soon.
A big thank you goes out to the partners, speakers and attendees of the New Food Conference, the overwhelming majority of whom have understood and supported our decisions. We are looking forward to creating an inspiring event in 2021 with you all!
About the author
International Communications Manager, Events
Kati manages the programme for the ProVeg New Food Conference, a unique food industry-oriented event that accelerates innovative food technologies. To ensure that the event reflects the most important developments in the market, Kati closely monitors alternative protein advancements in the food industry sector.