Day One of Global Table
The inaugural Global Table opened in Melbourne today with a rousing keynote address from 68th Secretary of State John F. Kerry on the need for urgent and dramatic action on climate change, food waste and energy policy.
“By being here today you are part of the solution,” John F. Kerry said to a packed room at Melbourne Showgrounds.
The first day of the three-day event was attended by more than 1,800 delegates from around the world, including the US, China, the Middle East and South-East Asia, who gathered to hear 20 sessions featuring dozens of world-class speakers.
Proceedings were officially opened by Jaclyn Symes MP, the Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Regional Development and Resources, with remarks by Food + Wine Victoria chairman Radek Sali and Marco Gualtieri, founder and chairman of Seeds&Chips, a founding partner of Global Table. This is the first time Seeds&Chips – The Global Food Innovation Summit has taken place in Australia. Landline journalist Pip Courtney was Master of Ceremonies.
After Secretary Kerry’s one-hour keynote, delegates fanned out over six conference spaces focused on trade opportunities for Australian businesses, pitch sessions for emerging and later-stage startups, showcases for innovative new food and agtech, panel discussions and more. The unifying theme was looking at issues from a global perspective.
Dozens of experts, including Danielle Nierenberg of Food Tank in the US, Jayne Paramor of Australian Packaging Covenant and Darrell Lyons of Escavox, addressed questions such as solving Australia’s plastics problem in the face of a waste processing crisis; regenerative agriculture’s potential for removing carbon from the atmosphere; and how and why the Sustainable Development Goals are now a key consideration for anyone doing business. Other conference highlights included two panels on the problem of food waste; the ways farmers, individuals and others are working to disrupt climate change; and why women need to be front and centre in food and agtech.
Young people between 13 and 19 years old – dubbed Teenovators – opened every conference session with a message of change for speakers and attendees.
“We are in a climate emergency and we must act now,” said 13-year old Bella Burgmeister from Western Australia. “We are looking for people to inspire us.”
Teenovators came from all over Australia, after a national call-out for applicants who had a passion for a particular environmental or agricultural issue.
A highlight of the day, taking place in the middle of the conference floor, was the Give Me 5! sessions that gave young conference delegates five minutes to speak to leading figures including Secretary Kerry and Minister Symes. The Give Me 5! conversations took place without microphones but in full view, with a clock counting down the five minutes. Sarah Leung, the founder of Australian food startup Alg Seaweed, 16-year-old beekeeper Luke de Laeter, and Anika Molesworth, founder of Farmers for Climate Action, were among the participants on Day One.
The Trade Zone at Global Table also opened to buyers and investors today. The area features more than 120 export-ready Australian businesses showcasing everything from raw cold-pressed cow’s milk to functional snack foods, specialty coffee, infant formula and more. Martin Pakula MP, Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade, opened the Trade Zone, before speakers took to the stage to discuss the rise of better-for-you foods, sustainable packaging solutions and the top five food trends to watch.
Elsewhere, Mondelez International’s SnackFutures innovation hub launched its Australian-New Zealand arm with a bang, running a pitch competition at Global Table on the future of snacking. The companies that pitched sustainable, healthy snack foods to Mondelez’s team included Australian startups Perkii Probiotic, maker of what-based straws Stroh and eco-packaging outfit Unpackaged, as well as internationals Beeing and Terviva. Meanwhile, several Italian startups had the opportunity to pitch to executives from Lavazza, Leonardo Australia and the Consult General of Italy in Melbourne at the Italian Innovation Day, held during proceedings at the Showgrounds.
It was a milestone day for Thankful4farmers, too, as the organisation took the stage for the first time in front of an industry audience. The organisation is an off-shoot of social enterprise Thankful. Its mission is to highlight the invaluable role of farming and agriculture and support rural communities through funds for special projects. Thankful4farmers ambassador Matt Moran was at Global Table today to speak about the project.
But it was Secretary Kerry who set the scene for the event.
“We know how to innovate, create, explore. That’s what we do,” he said.
And that’s what the next two days of Global Table are all about.
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