Food and Beverage MB

Cultivate conference succeeds on creating conversation on sustainability

 On September 7, 2022, sustainability and the environmental impact of one of Manitoba’s largest industries was discussed.

The Cultivate Sustainability and Trade Show brought together food industry professionals with experts and innovators in the sustainability field for a day of engagement, knowledge building, and networking. The food manufacturing and processing industry is not only one of the largest manufacturing industries in the province, it is also generates some of the largest impacts on the environment. Ranging from throughout its supply chain, from agricultural resources to transportation challenges down to recyclable and sustainable packaging, the food industry is at a crossroads in needing to deal with changing government regulations and industry standards.

Food & Beverage Manitoba held the conference to draw attention to this fact and to spur its members and the industry to prepare for this sea change.

“Manitoba is poised to become a leader in the production of foods that meet the triple bottom line of a sustainable food system that is good people, the planet and the bottom line,” says Michael Mikulak, executive director of Food & Beverage Manitoba.

“To this end, we assembled an amazing array of keynote speakers and workshops, along with a trade show showcasing companies working within the sustainability sphere.”

Cultivate’s keynote speakers delivered inspiring and illuminating keynotes touching on a diverse array of topics.

Cher Mereweather, founder of Anthesis Provision, spoke on the food and beverage industry’s need to start embracing sustainability, purpose and circularity to create a more resilient food system.

Ran Goel, founder of Fresh City Farms in the Toronto area, talked about consumer’s new found sense of environental impacts and how it affects company’s entire supply chain, right up to the retail side.

Fei Luo, president and founder of Liven Proteins, presented on her innovative work in the realm of precision fermentation. This new technology may revolutionize the protein industry, creating animal-free protein products with comparitive nutritional and functional value as their animal counterparts.

Finally, Craig Ryan, Director of Corporate Sustainability with BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada) talked about corporate social responsibility and how achieving a B-corp certification is good for both environmental responsbility and for the bottom line.

In addition, four workshops were held that generated intense discussion and engagement.

The first workshop, titled “Measuring Your Impact: ESG and GHG Tracking” discussed how an understanding of tracking of a company’s footprint is a positive step forward that leads to greater stewardship and to better outcomes for minimizing this impact.

The “Net-Zero Pledges and Your Supply Chain” workshop discussed how ongoing retail and consumer pressure could only lead to opportunities and lead to new innovations in reducing their carbon footprint.

Workshop 3, “Water Usage & Wasterwater” focussed on innovative solutions available at different points of the supply chain to help reduce costs and lower one’s water footprint.

The final workshop, “Food Waste & Sustainable Packaging” dealt with a significant challenge facing the entire industry, addressing waste and plastic pollution. With an incoming government ban on single use plastics, the workshop held discussion on various solutions and new developments that provides safety and freshness for products while acknowledging waster and plastic pollution.

“We wanted this conference to serve as a event for knowledge building, for inspiration, for making connections, and to display that we’re all in this together. The question of ‘why’ has definitely become a question of how,” continues Mikulak.

“At the end of the day, this is a topic that affects us all. And food is likewise a topic that affects us all. With all the diverse speakers and perspectives that Cultivate provided, it’s our hope that we can unlock the potential of Manitoba to become a global leader in agri-food sustainability.”