2nd Future Food Forum, Zhangzhou Development Zone, Fujian

On November 27th, the Second Global Future Food Forum took place in the Zhangzhou development Zone, Fujian province. At the 2-day forum, more than 250 domestic and international experts and scholars, representing government and business came together to discuss global food trends and developments.

Under the banner “Green & Health Lead the Future,” several forums and exhibitions, corporate promotions, and roadshows were held to promote international cooperation among the industry, academics, and research. And to get a more all-round perspective on sustainable development possibilities for humans, nature, and planet.

The global food economy is becoming increasingly competitive. With demographic changes, resource scarcity, consumer demands shifting, and rapid technological developments, there are plenty of business opportunities. And while new businesses keep popping up, providing the most specialized products or services, there is still a lot to gain in increasing efficiency and closing gaps within the value chain.

Strategic Topics

One of the reasons that made the forum very interesting was the wide variety of topics. In total, 17 specialists gave keynote speeches. Some discussed somewhat more abstract or strategic topics such as global food security and circular- and bio-economy. Others focused more on the development of food itself, how to improve food quality by looking at the sustainable transformation of protein, the future of meat substitutes, and increasing rice nutrition.

The development and application of plant proteins in meat substitutes

Food proteins can be obtained from a wide range of raw materials. Leguminous plants such as lupines, peas, field beans, and soy beans have a high protein content. Other plants like sunflowers, cereals, nuts, and pseudo-cereals also contain sufficient protein. Key quality criteria of plant proteins are their biological value and digestibility. These parameters are a measure of the efficiency of conversion of the dietary protein into body protein. Therefore the quality of vegan foods can be enhanced using special production processes and customized combinations of plant proteins.

Proteins can be modified by thermal, physical, and enzymatic means in order to change their sensory and techno-functional features. The way plant proteins are treated during the manufacture determines their properties. Commercially available plant proteins differ in the quality and hence in the potential applications. Not only the shelf-life, taste, and odor matter, but also the viscosity properties and purity. Therefore, plant proteins can be used as gelling agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, fat substitutes, or merely to replace animal protein sources such as eggs, milk, and meat. Plant proteins can also replace synthetic food ingredients and facilitate the so-called “clean labeling”.

Sensory optimization of foods containing plant proteins is a major challenge. The taste, texture, and mouth-feel can be controlled by the manufacturing process and further processing.

Biodiversity and Collaborative Science: Key drivers to achieving global food security and a circular food economy

Solving the challenges of rebalancing human being demands with the planet’s resources will require diverse multidisciplinary teams using creative and unconventional approaches, no longer ‘think global but act local’.

The UC Davis’ College of Agriculture of Environmental Sciences has developed 4 interdisciplinary themes for achieving healthy life on a green planet.

  1. meeting the challenge of climate change;
  2. advancing sustainable agricultural and food systems;
  3. assessing and addressing ecosystem viability and functionality;
  4. identifying the means or promoting equitable, healthy communities. 

Biodiversity and collaborative science are important keys of safe, affordable, nutritious foods and a circular food economy with minimal food loss and waste. All approaches to food production: conventional, organic, modern biotechnology, and controlled environment are needed. The nature of biodiversity in soil, microbial, plant, animal and human systems offer the robustness and resiliency required for our survival and reproduction. Collaborative science and the use of large datasets to develop the “Internet of Food” will help to achieve those solutions needed for a globally connected world and healthy planet.

Mild processing for sustainable protein transition

Achieving a full transition from animal to plant protein requires more diverse set of functional proteins for use in food products. Not only conventional crops, but also new alternative sources and side streams from agriculture can enable effective use of resources and develop new product applications. Side streams that contain leafy material will be discussed. They can originate from the primary production process like leaves and stems from crops, but can also be a residue after collection and processing for other products. Several processing means for protein recovery will be the future focus, like extraction and dry separation. These will deliver different protein fraction with different functionality and impact on the environment. Especially the dry separation has low environmental impact and some examples will be presented for separation of pulses into starch and protein. For effective crop use, partial fractionation and the use of other fractions besides protein will aid both the economy and environmental impact of the processing.

Rice nutrition improvement through identification of elite thick aleurone mutants

The rice endosperm is one of the most important staple food. In mature seeds, the rice endosperm consists of an outer layer of aleurone and an inner layer of starchy endosperm. The aleurone is comprised of a single layer of living cells that store mainly proteins, lipids, vitamins, zinc and iron, while the starchy endosperm is comprised of dead cells that accumulates mainly starch. Since aleurone and starchy endosperm have the same developmental origin, the genetic mechanism underlying the differentiation of these two tissues is still very much unknown. Through EMS mutagenesis and half-seed assay, two thick aleurone (ta) mutants are identified, ta1 and ta2, that have increased numbers of aleurone cell layers as compared to a single cell layer in the wild type. The homozygous ta1 mutant had three to four layers of aleurone cells, whereas homozygous ta2 mutant contained eight to ten layers of aleurone cells. Moreover, ta1 and ta2 seeds showed significantly increased nutrient contents such as protein, lipid, vitamins, zinc and iron. Thus that it is plausible to improve the nutritional value in rice by manipulating the seed structure.

About Zhengzhou Development Region

According to the latest statistics, dating 2018, Zhangzhou had more than 3,000 food companies and 607 enterprises above designated size. The Zhaoyin Port is the largest grain transit port on the southeast coast of China and one of the most dynamic terminals of domestic trade containers. In addition, Zhengzhou is the largest green food production base and agricultural export processing base in Fujian province, according to Shao Yulong, Secretary of the Party Committee of Zhangzhou municipality. Currently, Zhangzhou’s food industry is in the midst of a transformation, shifting its focus from quantity to quality. Aiming at extending the food industry chain, promoting the importance of safe, nutritious, and health food.