Before the Intelligent Food Processing and Packaging Summit, we had the opportunity to interview the chairman, Cesare Varallo. Cesare is the Food Lawyer & Founder for Food Law Latest. In our interview, Cesare shares his experience in the industry as well as what he expects from the summit. Let's see what he has to say:
COULD YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND & YOUR AREA OF INTEREST IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY?
I am a food lawyer based in Torino, Italy, working in this field since 2010, when the “food law” practice was not really defined as an academic and autonomous discipline.
I pioneered the idea of multidisciplinary consulting in this sector, specializing myself in several other food related-areas (food economics, marketing, safety and technology) and onboarding in our hybrid firm technical experts.
The idea is to work at the intersection between science, law, business, and social sciences, to timely answer the needs of clients in a globalized environment. Today we operate with partners in 90 countries worldwide in the following areas: food labeling and advertising compliance, crisis management (e.g. food recalls), food fraud prevention strategies and food law advice.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES THAT YOU SEE IN THE INDUSTRY RIGHT NOW?
The main challenge will be to increase consumers’ trust in the industry and especially in new technologies applied to food and agriculture, that might have huge benefits in terms of safety, durability and crops yield, but on the other side might be seen as “suspicious” by the most conservative consumers.
If the huge loss of trust suffered in recent years - after several global incidents (e.g. “horsemeat scandal”) – has been partially recovered, the consumers have been historically very conservative when it comes to accepting new ways of producing food or radical new technological applications.
With a constantly increasing global population and all the challenges that climate change will provide to the food sector, it will be pivotal to increase consumers’ acceptance of innovations in our sector. Innovation is the only way to provide even more nutrition, safe and sustainable foods to a soon-to-be 9 billion people community.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE LATEST FOOD PROCESSING AND PACKAGING INNOVATIONS THAT YOU ARE EXCITED ABOUT?
Without digging into too many technically complex topics, I feel that two main areas can really drive changes in a sector that has not been for sure the most “innovative” around in the last couple of decades:
Data analysis: the food industry, being highly regulated and producing articles that might create a significant risk for public health, has always generated a huge amount of data and records…but not so often analyzed them and made them actionable. The most significant step forward in terms of risk analysis, reduction of food safety issues on production lines, minimization of quality issues on the end products, I think will be driven by big data analytical techniques and the application of AI systems to production lines’ machines on production lines and software already in use by food companies.
Packaging: in an environment where sustainability is every day more important, I guess that intelligent packaging and nanotechnologies applied to food contact materials might really create breakthroughs. It will be fascinating to see how regulators will face the increasing amount of viable solutions, not always easy to define under the existing legal framework (not differently from other emerging technologies directly applied to food, e.g. CRISPR, cell-cultured meat/fish, hydroponics, 3d printing).
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM THE INTELLIGENT FOOD PROCESSING AND PACKAGING SUMMIT?
I am really excited and honored to chair this event. We will have more than 12 case studies from some of the most well-renowned food companies, therefore I expect to have precious insights into the direction the food industry is taking in a post-pandemic environment. And as chairman, I’ll make sure that the discussion will be fruitful to this end.