Bioeconomy and innovation for a sustainable food chain #NORDICFOOD2024


After a highly successful decade for the New Nordic Food movement, it is now time to discuss visions of what Nordic food should be capable of towards 2024. The second in a series of six vision workshops addressed the bioeconomy’s role for a sustainable Nordic food chain.

The workshop took place in Iceland, with participation from bioeconomy experts and food professionals. The aim was to identify potential bridges between these closely related concepts and define common goals for innovation in a sustainable food chain in the region. Reinforcing local economies through sustainable food innovation was a key focus.

Responsibility throughout the food chain
One of the main conclusions was that achieving a sustainable Nordic food chain requires consumers and producers to become more conscious of their role in the chain. This calls for more cooperation on educational efforts throughout the value chain, providing insights into everything from primary production to consumption and food waste streams. Every link in the chain must be aware of the ways in which his or her efforts influence the end result for the consumer. Moreover, all these efforts should be tracable.

Education for a sustainable food system
Better understanding of the food production system as a whole would allow consumers to adjust their consumption in order to reduce its environmental impact. Engaging and educating young consumers is particularly interesting in this regard, as they will be able use their food consumption choices to influence producers towards sustainability.

Food innovation is a key element of the bioeconomy
Underutilised resources and side streams in the bioeconomy are a source of vast opportunities for sustainable food innovation. The experts therefore stressed that food and meals should remain an integrated part of the bioeconomy debate, rather than it focussing solely on biorefineries, technologies and economics. Healthy foods and the combination of food and health technologies were highlighted as areas that hold a lot of potential for Nordic food innovation.

Great value in cross-sectoral collaboration
Involvement from a broad range of sectors is a prerequisite for developing a sustainable Nordic food chain. Apart from the many sectors directly involved in the food value chain, involvement from sectors such as the cultural and creative industries will be a valuable asset. Establishing suitable venues for such cross-sectorial cooperation will be important in the transition towards a more innovative and sustainable food production.

New ways of communicating sustainable food
Building this broad engagement requires manifold communication - in education, media, entertainment, and on new communication platforms. To an urban population, food is often the main – and in some cases the only – biological link to the rural areas that form the basis for thriving urban communities. Food should be a natural way to increase the awareness of a fragile global system, as well as the need for a change from a technical to a more biologically based society. Storytelling evolving around the many success stories about sustainable foods and local food producers will be elemental in the Nordic food narrative of the future.

#Producers and consumers shall regain respect for own role in sustainable food chain
#Bridges between actors via food education, new communication tools, and cross-sectorial networks
#Interaction between health tech and food production as goal for innovation

More information about the vision workshop #NORDICFOOD2024 here

Text by Páll Tómas Finnsson
Picture: Matis Ltd.

#NORDICFOOD2024 are a series of vision workshops, which will be about how far we need to go, to realise the vision of the Nordic kitchen in a number of selected areas in 10 years' time. The idea is to invite a group of leading players from across the Nordic region to discuss which activities and visions we should work on in the future, if a stronger Nordic food culture is to be an effective solution for future societal challenges.


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