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Sustainability News

Food Systems Director's Blog

October 11, 2018

By Kathleen Merrigan

During the 2018-19 academic year, the ASU Swette Center will host five forums on the future of food. In these forums, leaders will explore a range of issues, from new industry dynamics, to agtech innovations, global food security challenges, ecosystem services, and more. These events are designed to provide insights for policymakers in Washington DC and allow them to explore, through high-level conversations, cutting edge topics that have the potential to transform the food and agriculture sector.

Today we hosted our first event – a breakfast on the 8th floor pavilion attended by nearly 60 people. Because this was our opening event, it began with me offering my vision of the future of food and the ways the Swette Center will lead, particularly as it relates to engaging with industry. Three panelists followed.

James Rogers, CEO of Apeel Sciences in Santa Barbara CA, kicked off the panel discussion with remarks about his game changing technology to reduce food loss and waste in the produce industry.

Brad Figel, VP of Mars, Inc. and longtime Washington food policy leader spoke about the new Sustainable Food Policy Alliance that Mars, Danone, Unilever, and Nestle have created to collaborate on priority public policy issues –consumer transparency, environment, food safety, nutrition and communities.

Allison Kopf, CEO of Agrilyst in Brooklyn NY, an analytics software company for the controlled environment agriculture sector spoke about connecting data through specialized software to reduce risks and increase profits.

The question and answer session was energetic as people were clearly fascinated with the cutting edge initiatives undertaken by industry. Altogether, our breakfast event was a great launch of the Swette Center in Washington DC. Among those writing about the event was Jerry Hagstrom, whose story is found here. We are getting the word out about our work!

Perhaps our favorite part of the event: breakfast featured avocado toast. The avocados had been treated with Apeel technology. People were invited to take avocados home, all courtesy of Dr. Rogers.

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*Pictured from left, James Rogers of Apeel Sciences, Brad Figel of Mars, and Alison Kopf of Agrilyst. Photo: Jerry Hagstrom, The Hagstrom Report.