Future Food Director Andy Salter with other attendees of the Rank Prize meeting, standing in front of a lake with clouds in the background

October 19, 2022, by Lexi Earl

Our Future Food Director’s first thoughts

This post is written by Andrew Salter.

It has been a very strange start to the autumn term for me.  For over 30 years, this time of year has been associated with preparing for teaching in the forthcoming semester.  Instead, while I watch my colleagues going through this process, I am trying to get to grips with my new role as ‘interim’ Director of the Future Food Beacon.  I officially began this role on the 1st September when David Salt left the University. I would like to take this opportunity to thank David for the tremendous job he did in ensuring the success of the Beacon and reaching out across the University to build multidisciplinary teams to address the increasing challenges we are seeing in the world’s food systems.  Sadly, we have also seen the departure of Simon Ridgway who did an amazing job of controlling the Beacon’s finances.

It has certainly been a busy start with three separate symposia/conferences to attend.  The first was the 2nd Conference on Food Systems in Small Islands and Developing States which was held in Putrajaya, Malaysia.  I also had the opportunity to visit our Malaysia campus and it was great to catch up with colleagues there for the first time in 3 years.  The conference was a fascinating, multidisciplinary exploration of the specific problems that such regions face, and ended with a workshop identifying potential areas where we can develop future collaborations and a commitment to a 3rd conference. More details can be found in the conference report. If you’d like to join the network, more details can be found here.

On my return it was straight into the Future Food Beacon symposium at Nottingham Contemporary.  As many of you will have witnessed, this was an excellent showcase of the broad range of multi-disciplinary research that has been supported by the Future Food Beacon. Topics covered included: Computer Driven Innovation, Net-Zero Food Systems, Healthy Diets, Regenerative Agriculture, Alternative Proteins and Cultivated Meat. I think we all came away proud of what we have achieved, and excited to be taking this work forward under the auspices of a new Food Systems Institute.

After a short break of annual leave, it was then off to the Lake District for a Rank Prize Symposium on Meeting Future Global Protein Requirements.  This arose from a request by Malcolm Bennett (a member of the Rank Nutrition Committee) for me to put together a programme almost 3 years ago.  After inevitable delays due to Covid, it was great to see it finally happen. A small group of 27 researchers (a mixture of experienced and early career researchers) had the opportunity to discuss a whole range of topics related to how we are going to be able to sustainably meet the protein requirements of future generations and what the potential health impacts may be of changes in our dietary sources of protein.  The Nottingham contingent included: Malcolm, Ramiro Alberio, Festo Massawe (from our Malaysia Campus) and myself, and we were joined by ECRs: Alberto Tanzi, Carlos Lopez Viso, Niki Tsoutsoura, Noriane Cochetel and Kamil Szepe.  It was a fabulous opportunity to discuss our work with an international group of researchers who shared our passion for ‘future protein’.  It also helped that it was in one of the most beautiful (though rather wet) parts of the country.

The rest of my time has been largely taken up with the development of a business plan for the new UoN Food Systems Institute. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Pete Noy for the tremendous amount of work he put into this. The plan has now been put to the University Research Committee and, assuming their response is positive, we hope to reach out around the University (and our external colleagues) in coming weeks to explore further thoughts on the range of activities the Institute will focus on.

With no further immediate events in my diary, I hope to spend some time hearing about progress on ongoing projects and future ideas.  If you have anything you wish to discuss with me please feel free to reach out: andrew.salter@nottingham.ac.uk.

Posted in Future Food News