Sweden and its capital Stockholm could become dynamic hubs for food technology, analyst suggests
Sweden and its capital city of Stockholm could become a key centre for a transformed food system that prioritises health, the environment and individual needs, a leading analyst said at a talk at SIAL Paris.
Johan Jörgensen, founder and partner of Sweden Foodtech, said that the willingness of Nordic countries to adopt new technology made Stockholm an ideal centre for a revolutionised food sector.
He said that the food sector often felt that it was immune to transformation, but this was not the case and large-scale change would happen.
Highlighting the need for change, he cited figures from the United States, where roughly $1 trillion is spent on food each year.
“That trillion dollars in food also gives rise to a couple of other things, for instance $1.1 trillion in healthcare costs and $1 trillion more in environmental costs, which means that every food dollar really costs $3. And this is something that’s starting to sink in now,” he said during a talk at SIAL Paris.
“We think that food is cheap but reality it’s super expensive, it’s just that somebody else is paying for it, another wallet pays for the negative effect. I think the world has woken up to this fact now.”
The truth, Mr Jörgensen said, is that food in its current form is killing the planet and everyone on it, and this has to change.
Stockholm, the Swedish capital. Photo credit: Ana Borquez / Unsplash
Over the next three decades or so, the population of cities globally will double at a time when there is greater recognition that these people are not merely consumers, but are individuals, he told delegates.
Tied in with this is the idea that data is required to understand what needs to be achieved from the food system, according to Mr Jörgensen, who added that algorithms could make sense of this information.
“This means that we can start to steer things like robots putting food together for us,” he said. “If we are to achieve healthy, sustainable individual eating, not everyone can have a chef. We need to rely more on robots that can fine tune meals for us.
“I’m pretty sure all those companies out there producing robots for the car industry will be producing the chefs of tomorrow, because those robots will be able to rely on algorithms and data that we’re currently collecting around food.”
A city such as Stockholm is “change minded”, with people ready to embrace technology, and the city is not tied into the traditional structures of the food sector.
“That’s why we think Stockholm will become the most relevant hub for the development of the next-gen food system,” he said.
“A lot of people have realised the food sector is up for grabs … Big finance has started to see that they can do something with food.”
Photo credit : Jeff Sheldon / Unsplash
Technology, new business models, changes in policy and the entry of new companies, some without a background in the food sector, are, he said, redefining food.
“The old food value chain is going to be squashed. It’s going to be something that doesn’t retain its power, because power over food will move to new layers. Which layers and which players I don’t know, but it’s definitely moving away from the current ones,” he said.
He said that food could be used to improve productivity, results in schools, social integration and health, with food bringing “more joy and happiness than we’re currently experiencing”.
“By 2040 we shall have a new food system that outpaces the old food system and that is stronger than the old food system,” he said of Stockholm. “Already by 2030 we’ve said to ourselves we should see the outlines of this.
“Places such as Stockholm do have a chance to become one of the leading food spots in the world. It won’t be the same type of food as you have in France or in Italy or in other great food cultures, but it will be all the rest of the stuff around food that we’ll try to take charge of.”
Main photo credit: Eaters Collective / Unsplash