Registration is open for the 1st edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit Latin America, to take place in São Paulo March 27-28. Organized by marketing research firm Organic Monitor, the inaugural edition will focus on green commodities and sustainable packaging. Since Latin America has become a major global source of coffee, soybeans, cocoa, sugar and other commodities, intensive farming methods are having a toll on eco-systems. Featured speakers will discuss the economic and environmental opportunities provided by sustainable production methods and ways to reduce the packaging impact of food and beverages.
Like prior editions in San Francisco and Amsterdam, the summit will bring together leading organizations involved in eco-labels and sustainability in the food industry. Among the speakers Fernando Oliviera from Native Organics will highlight the biodiversity impact of agricultural commodities, whilst another paper discusses the growing need for transparency in global supply chains. Vanusia Noguiera from the Brazil Specialty Association will highlight the challenges associated with value-added coffee production and marketing. Imaflora will compare and contrast the sustainability benefits provided by eco-labels, such as Organic, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade. The panel will also debate the future direction of green commodities in a region that has been preoccupied with agricultural exports.
The sustainability in packaging session explores the various ways the food industry can reduce its packaging footprint. Rising oil prices, high ecological impact of packaging waste, and pressure by NGOs and consumers are making food and beverage companies scrutinize their packaging footprints. Some findings from the life-cycle analysis of product packaging will be presented, followed by papers on sustainable materials and eco-design approach. Karen Santos from Creez Communication & Design will state why food and beverage firms need to go beyond traditional life-cycle thinking. Braskem will give an update on bio-plastic applications, whilst Pão De Açucar and Coca-Cola will share their experiences in reducing their packaging impacts. The Brazilian retailer has spearheaded a number of initiatives to reduce packaging waste, whilst the multinational is using sustainable plastic feedstock for its ubiquitous bottled beverages.
 Best-practices in marketing sustainable foods will also be featured. An update on the global market for eco-labeled food & drink market will be given, including details of the export openings for Latin American producers. Daniela de Fiori, Sustainability VP of Wal-Mart, will share some of the retailer’s green initiatives. The international retailer is requesting greater disclosure from its suppliers as it aims to reduce its environmental footprint. Gabriel Borges from AMPFY will highlight the opportunities provided by social media to green brands, whilst the Akatu Institute will give insights into the growing ethical consumer base in Brazil.
 Major sustainability issues associated with the Latin American food industry will be debated. With environmental concerns over beef production, GTPS (Working Group on Sustainable Beef) and JBS Brasil will discuss approaches to encourage sustainable livestock production. An estimated 80 percent of deforestation in the Amazon is caused by cattle ranchers, leading to the emission of 340 million tons of carbon emissions per year. The Marine Stewardship Council will highlight some of the sustainability issues associated with seafood in the region. SODEXO will give a paper on sustainability in the catering & foodservice sector, whilst Unilever will share the progress of its Sustainability Living Plan. Another paper by Food Design will highlight food safety and sustainability risks in supply chains.
By bringing the summit to Latin America, the organizer aims to address sustainability issues in the food industry. Amarjit Sahota, President of Organic Monitor, comments ‘Latin America is now established as a major food producer and exporter. By hosting the Sustainable Foods Summit, we want to ensure the region also does not lag in terms of sustainable production and consumption.”