Future of Food in Flanders



Paleis der Academiën, Brussel

Future of Food in Flanders


Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts
Jan Delcour (organiser)
Paula Moldenaers (organiser)

Activity in the context of the Thinkers' cycle 

This symposium concludes the 2018 KVAB Thinkers' Programme on Food. Margaret Bath (EIT Food) and Tiny van Boekel (Wageningen University) were asked to investigate the Flemish food chain. They have done this by visiting CEOs, researchers, NGOs and policymakers and confronting their findings with global trends in food production. This resulted on the one hand in the conclusion that these global trends are definitely applicable to Flanders, but on the other hand that there are also specific Flemish aspects to it. The two experts will present their findings during the symposium, together with key players from the Flemish food chain, after which the participants are asked to take part in the discussion.

Some of the topics that will be discussed are:

The role of farmers

Farmers are at the basis of the food chain. However, they are not given the credits for this, literally nor metaphorically. The power relations in the food chain make that they are generally not well paid for their efforts, forcing them to seek the margins of their production: bulk production rather than specialties, less sustainable than desired. It is time that farmers are also economically rewarded for their activities so that they can start innovating and producing in a sustainable way. Give farmers the role they deserve.


The role of the consumer

The consumer is at the end of the food chain but it sometimes seems that he/she is not part of the chain. There is a big knowledge gap on food production and food quality, and there is mistrust on what food chain actors actually do. At the same time, there is an apparent need for information, seeing the enormous amount of blogs, vlogs on food. Consumers need to be more involved in the whole of the food chain, they need to be taken seriously by listening to their needs but also by making clear what the opportunities and limitations are to produce food of a desired quality, and the price that needs to be paid for that.


The role of SMEs

Food processing is an important activity in present society, and the food industry is characterized by a relatively small number of big players and a large number of small and medium size. The big advantage of SMEs is that they can be very innovative due to their small size; they can respond to consumer wishes and they can engage relatively easy with consumers in true communication, and in that sense can be forerunners for the necessary innovation in the food chain.



1 Coffee and registration 09:30 - 10:00
2 Presentation by the Thinkers with Q&A 10:00 - 10:45
Margaret Bath, Thinker-in-residence (speaker)
Tiny van Boekel, Thinker-in-residence (speaker)
3 On the role of the consumer in the food chain 10:45 - 11:05
Liesbet Vranken, KU Leuven (speaker)
Shifting Consumer Demands Catalyzing Change in the Food System
4 Testimonial by 11:05 - 11:10
Hein Deprez, CEO Greenyard (speaker)
5 On the role of SMEs in the food chain 11:10 - 11:30
Inge Arents, Managing Director, Flanders' Food (speaker)
6 Testimonial by 11:30 - 11:35
Guido Vanherpe, CEO La Lorraine Bakery Group (speaker)
7 Coffee break 11:35 - 12:05
8 Testimonial by 12:05 - 12:10
Sven Lamote, CEO Alpro (speaker)
9 Keynote speech: Challenges for the Food Chain: who will be the farmer, the retailer, the shopper? 12:10 - 12:45
Jules Noten, CEO Vandemoortele (speaker)
10 Lunch 12:45 - 13:45
11 On the role of farmers in the food chain 13:45 - 14:05
Pieter Verhelst, Member of the Board, Boerenbond (speaker)
12 Breakout sessions 14:05 - 15:05

Participation in 2 sessions, choose from:

12.1 Position of farmers in the food chain
Pieter Verhelst, Boerenbond (chair)

12.2 Role of consumer in the food chain
Frédéric Leroy, VUB (chair)
12.3 Role of retail and the food industry itself in consumer trust
Mieke Vercaeren, Colruyt Group (chair)
12.4 Role of government and EU in the food chain
Bernard De Potter, VLAIO (chair)
12.5 Who could be the trusted voice in the food chain?
Inge Arents, Flanders' Food (chair)
12.6 Transparency in the food chain: what does that imply?
Filip Arnaut, Puratos (chair)
13 Coffee break 15:05 - 15:35
14 Report breakout sessions 15:35 - 16:05
15 Wrap up by the Thinkers 16:05 - 16:35
Margaret Bath, Thinker-in-residence (speaker)
Tiny van Boekel, Thinker-in-residence (speaker)
16 Reception 16:35 - 17:35