TGL News: Vegan burgers, sustainable packaging are just the start of a food revolution

TGL news

reusable takeaway container
Results from a recent trial by Retub found 100% cafes reported that retubs were returned by their customers

Hello Green List friends,

And a big welcome to our latest Greenlister Team Catalyst consultancy, which can turn pretty much any poor performing old building into a sleek efficient performer. PC, as he prefers to be known, is a stalwart of industry engagement and a lead contributor to better outcomes.

A new look from rural Australia
Australasia’s biggest agrifood technology event evokeAG kicked off on Monday at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, with more than 90 speakers taking to the stage to discuss the challenges and solutions facing the sector.

The two-day event covers everything from innovations in agriculture, global trade trends, food loss and waste, frontiers in technology and the importance of the farmer in the global solution when it comes to increasing productivity in the face of an increasingly volatile Australian climate.

Some of the world’s largest overseas investors were speaking at the event – such as John Hartnett, founder and chief executive officer of Silicon Valley based SVG Ventures, which will be using the opportunity in town to look for new startup talent and investment opportunities.

Biofuels is gaining increasing interest world wide and Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s Mac Irvine and Bioenergy Australia’s Shahana McKenzie will discuss ways to produce sustainable quantities of renewable fuel for the transport industry.  Just in time to wave goodbye to so many Aussies’ favourite energy guzzlers, Holden cars, in their many and varied shapes and sizes.

On the food front at evokeAG, beef producers could be forgiven for feeling a tad leery of those creators of fake meats who claim it’s hard to tell the fake from the original.

Last we looked, Australia’s share of plant-based meat sector was on the cusp of massive expansion, “set to contribute up to $3 billion to the nation’s economy and generate thousands of full-time Australian jobs by 2030”, according to a report by Food Frontier Meat The Alternative: Australia’s $3 Billion Opportunity study, released at the end of last year.

Current value of the industry is already at nearly $30 million in economic value, $150 million a year in consumer expenditure and supports 265 jobs. It’s early days, but you can see where this is going.

Food Frontier chief executive Thomas King says, “put simply, we’re facing a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for Australia to become a global plant-protein powerhouse, and the great news is we already have the intellectual and infrastructure assets to seize it.”

In particular, there is the chance for Aussie farmers to grow crops for plant-based meat.

Already companies in the space include The Alternative Meat Co. burger and Beyond Burger.

No doubt, there will be plenty of questions at the event for the founder of the fast food behemoth Hungry Jacks, Jack Cowin, who was an early mover on new age meat with vegan burger stakes. His point of interest is how the industry needs to stay globally relevant, draw investment and increase export.

Also on the subject of food…

Ever since the 2007 launch of KeepCup (an Australian invention, by the way), companies with an eye on sustainability and consumer trends have been developing savvy solutions to our plastic addiction.

Green Lister Retub is one of the many companies trying to shift vendors and consumers away from disposable containers in the take-away food sector. Last year, TGL wrote about Retub’s premium reusable takeaway food container, which has a built-in container exchange program called Reswap.

Following a trial in Bendigo, the company now has evidence that shows retubs reduce waste and provide benefits to the community.

Their final assessment was based on a random sample of about 20 per cent of the 45 cafes that participated in the trial. It found that 100 per cent of the cafes reported that retubs were being returned by their customers and100 per cent reported that the retub program had reduced single-use containers.

On top of that, the cafes reported that the trial had prompted conversations about sustainability with customers and helped strengthen customer relationships.

Talk about clouds with silver linings
When it comes to packaging, there is still so much to be done to reduce our plastic waste. BioPak is one of the companies making progress in this space. It produces sustainable alternatives to conventional single-use packaging for the foodservice industry, offering compostable packaging solutions made from rapidly renewable, plant-based raw materials.

This week, it announced it is working with NetSuite, which provides clients with cloud-based solutions, to streamline its operations and give customers new eco-friendly alternatives.

Last year, BioPak launched a composting collection service to help close the loop on waste. With NetSuite, BioPak has been able to take advantage of an integrated business platform to drive efficiencies across its core operations while expanding both its range of products and services and the number of markets it serves.

And late last year UTS in Sydney opened a plastic free food court thanks to a new clause written into the lease agreement.

So there you go they used to say that leasing agents and lease clauses were the hardest part of the market to shift. But UTS showed it can be done!