Another successful edition of the Global Food Safety Culture drew to a close today. Most of the 1200-plus delegates are now en route to their fifty-two home countries. Whether the delegates are flying back to France or riding the shinkansen to Shizuoka, they'll have lots of conference memories to mull over as they make their way home. The GFSI Local Groups, however, still have work to do. Today and tomorrow, they're buckling down to a series of meetings addressing issues from the conference on the applied, granular level.
Applying New Tech to the Real World in Special Sessions and Breakouts
The morning began as busily as yesterday, with a full roster of special sessions and breakouts on a broad range of topics. The audience packed into these sessions with their characteristic enthusiasm, perhaps tinged with a new sense of urgency. After all, this would be their last opportunity to enjoy such a carefully-curated selection of talks from the biggest names in the food industry. At least for the 2018 conference.
Not every delegate managed to wake up early after the rousing dinner and dance at Happo-en last night. Those who did manage to get out of bed were rewarded with an especially invigorating selection of sessions. The early special sessions covered the impact that emerging technologies are set to have on food safety, establishing a focus on the future that would define the day's events.
Like the special sessions, the mid-morning breakout sessions were concerned with applying new innovations to real-world events.
Each of the sessions was primarily trained on a certain point in the global food chain. The Primary Production session brought together representatives from regional supermarket chains, multinational retail corporations, and certification programme owners (CPOs), all of whom expressed their dedication to their link in the food chain.
The experts discussed establishing safety on the farms, fisheries and other primary production settings to ensure high standards from the root to the tip of every branch in the system.
The concurrent Redrawing the Lines in Food Service & Hospitality session had an even broader range of speakers: McDonald's, Marriott, Costco, and the delivery service Meituan Dianping were all represented. Despite their differences, these companies are equally concerned with providing a high standard of service and safety to their customers. Like most modern businesses, these companies are also interested in attracting the all-important "millennial" customer. Yongjian Zhong of Meituan Dianping had the panel and audience in rapt attention as he described his company's techniques for attracting these young customers through seamless integration with social media.
While all of the breakouts were impressively well attended, the Food Fraud Compliance Challenges and Successes session edged out the competition. Food fraud is a perennial concern of food safety and the tech darlings of the moment – blockchain, big data, etc. – are perfectly poised to solve some of these long-standing challenges.
Plenary 5: Looking Towards the Future of Food
The delegates reconvened for one last time at the fifth and final plenary of GFSC 2018: Japan 2020, Nutrition and the Future of Food.
Moderator Sharanjit Leyl opened the session by asking the audience if they remembered what day it was. Though conferences, like vacations, can often cause a degree of forgetfulness, the audience called out the answer immediately: today is International Women's Day. This is international holiday receives a special level of attention in Asia.
Leyl asked all the women in the room to stand – delegates, speakers, staff and interpreters alike – and encouraged the rest of the audience to applaud their accomplishments in the food industry and elsewhere.
Their attention piqued, the audience enjoyed an especially optimistic selection of presentations from Daichi Suzuki, Commissioner of the Japan Sports Agency and former Olympic gold medalist, Mitsuru Izumo, president of Euglena Co., and Adjiedj Bakas, the renowned futurist behind Trend Office Bakas.
Suzuki drew the audience's attention to the 2020 games, at which food quality and safety will be a paramount issue for both athletes and visitors.
Izumo presented a possible solution to the issue of malnutrition by introducing his company's main product, a powdered food composed of nutritionally dense algae.
Bakas closed the session with a kaleidoscope of predictions about the future of food and beyond. His fast-paced, multimedia presentation covered every possible trend from converting corpses into an alternative water source to growing meat in artificial animal wombs.
Though some of Bakas' predictions look towards a far, distant and uncertain future, the final plenary included one prediction that is guaranteed to come true in the next year. Representatives from The Consumer Goods Forum and GFSI then took the stage to announce the setting of GFSC 2019: sunny, stylish Nice.
We hope to see you again, just a short eleven months from today, for another installment of the Global Food Safety Conference. See you in Nice!