Q&A: Theresa Flach, Conference Producer for the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit

7 Mins Read

In this interview, Theresa Flach, Conference Producer for the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit, shares her insights on big trends to take over the region’s food tech industry, key speakers that are set to take the stage, and what to expect at the event.

GQ: What are some of the big trends/topics that you think will dominate the event?

TF: With the UN stating ‘code red for humanity’ in its latest climate report, the pressure is on to scale sustainable food production. This theme will be at the forefront of the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit, taking place November 16-18, 2021 as a hybrid event in Singapore and online.

Humans have altered the environment at an unprecedented pace, with global warming dangerously close to spiralling out of control and weather extremes affecting every region of the world. We have not only an opportunity but a responsibility to shape a better future by sharply reducing emissions. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) states that the world’s food systems are responsible for more than one-third – 18 billion tonnes – of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The good news is that greener food production processes are achievable, and will be an invaluable instrument in our fight against climate change.

Circling in on environmentally and economically sustainable food production, this November’s Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit hosted in partnership with Temasek, will explore everything from driving adoption of technology among smallholder farmers, to implementing sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices. With its focus on scale-up, resource efficiency, and crop science, urban farming is also a key topic to be discussed, and in the food sphere, cutting carbon, holistic nutrition and health strategies, alternative proteins, and planet-friendly food packaging are all top priority.

GQ: What are some of the speakers you are most excited about? What are some of the panels you are most excited about?

TF: We already have 90+ exciting high-level speakers confirmed for the summit. I’m looking forward to the Opening Plenary panel on November 16 with Suresh Sundararajan, Managing Director of Olam International, Christopher Langholz, International President of Tyson Foods and Chan Hian Lim, Deputy CEO of the Singapore Food Agency, as they will be looking at the most important priorities for innovation in Asia’s food industry. 

We will also be joined by the regional CEOs from two global brands, Juan Aranols, CEO of Nestlé Malaysia, and Rob Candelino, CEO of Unilever Thailand and Inland ASEAN, to share their vision on the role of global consumer brands in addressing the economic, environmental and social challenges faced by the agri-food industry, and their role in supporting innovation for a more sustainable value chain.

Carbon cutting and advancing sustainable food production is an important topic to be covered this year and will be looking ahead to a net-zero emissions future, and the impact of sustainable food production at scale across the Asia Pacific region. We’ll be joined by a stellar panel of speakers which includes Xiuling Guo, Managing Director, Edible Oils at Cargill, Rana Karadsheh, Director at IFC, Alex Bell, CEO, Agoro Carbon Alliance,andPing Chew, Managing Director, Regional Head of Food & Agribusiness Research & Advisory Asia at Rabobank.

In the alternative protein space, Saurabh Bajaj, CEO of JUST Asia, Marc Nicholson, Founder of 1880, Timo Recker, Co-Founder & Chairman of Next Gen Foods, and Christoph Vogel, Head of Market Segment Proteins & Ingredients at Bühler Group will join a panel chaired by Karen Hooper, Policy Lead Science and Innovation Unit at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. The session will explore the milestones that have been achieved in Asia’s alternative protein market, the regulatory landscape, where the industry is headed and how the private sector, academia and governments can establish a secure environment for knowledge exchange and scale-up collaboration. A discussion not to be missed!

We will also be hosting a range of additional sessions on plant-based, fermented and cultured protein innovation, with senior leaders from BlueNalu, Vow Foods, Upside Foods, SGProtein, GreenRebel, Burgreens, Nourish Ingredients, The Good Food Institute APAC, Keller and Heckman, Dao Foods, The China Plant-based Foods Alliance, Thai Union and the National Science and Technology Development Agency Thailandalready confirmed to speak. The content will focus on overcoming pressing industry challenges such as scaling technology, sustainable ingredient sourcing, improving the nutritional profile and reducing the environmental impact of alternative proteins. A particular highlight will be China- and Thailand-focused panels looking at accelerating growth and identifying the right entry points for external players in these markets.

To close the loop on a greener future, we will also be exploring food packaging; the solutions available, their cost-benefit impact, legislation and the partnerships needed to overcome competitive obstacles and accelerate the adoption of sustainable packaging across the Asia-Pacific region.

The speaker line-up across the three days also includes:

  • Elizabeth O’Leary, Head of Agriculture, Macquarie Group, Australia
  • Tunyawat Kasemsuwan, Director of Global Innovation, Thai Union Group, Thailand
  • Corine Tap, Danone President for Asia, Africa & Middle East, Danone, Indonesia
  • Dilys Boey, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Singapore, Singapore
  • John Vaske, Head, Agribusiness and Head, Americas, Temasek, Singapore
  • Ho Ren Hua, CEO, Thai Wah, Thailand
  • Bao Shengjie, Co-Founder and CEO, Singrow, Singapore
  • Nate Storey, Co-Founder and CSO, Plenty, USA
  • Gastón Paladini, Co-Founder and CEO, Moolec Science, UK
  • Claire Pribula, Managing Director, The Yield Lab Asia Pacific, Singapore
  • Ezhil Subbian, CEO, String Bio, India
  • Eve Samyuktha, Founder and CEO, 7030 Food Science & Technology, China
  • Xiuling Guo, Managing Director, Edible Oils, Cargill, Singapore
  • Chris Stevens, Director Global Agribusiness, Kellogg Company, Australia
  • Charlotte Kowara, Chief Empowerment Officer, Accelerice, Indonesia
  • Timo Recker, Co-Founder & Chairman, Next Gen Foods, Singapore
  • Eric Kawabata, APAC General Manager, TerraCycle & Loop, Japan
  • Looi Hoo Cheong, CTO, Aegis Packaging, Singapore
  • Alex Zhang, Managing Partner, Hosen Capital, China
  • Xin Yi Lim, Executive Director Sustainability and Agricultural Impact, Pinduoduo, China
  • Didier Toubia, Co-Founder and CEO, Aleph Farms, Israel
  • Lou Cooperhouse, President and CEO, BlueNalu, USA
  • George Peppou, Co-Founder and CEO, Vow, Australia
  • Amy Chen, Chief Operating Officer, Upside Foods, USA
  • Mirte Gosker, Acting Managing Director, The Good Food Institute APAC, Singapore
  • Nick Hazell, Founder and CEO, v2food, Australia
  • Xun Wang, Chairman, President and CEO, Triton Algae, USA
  • Dominique Kull, Co-Founder and CEO, SGProtein, Singapore
  • Helga Angelina Tjahjadi, Co-Founder and CEO, Green Rebel and Burgreens, Indonesia
  • Andrew Brockfield, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Planet, Australia
  • Charlotte Kowara, Chief Empowerment Officer, Accelerice, Indonesia
  • Barbara Guerpillon, Head of Dole Ventures, Dole Sunshine Company, Singapore
  • Timo Recker, Co-Founder & Chairman, Next Gen Foods, Singapore
  • Justin Chou, CEO, Growthwell, Singapore

GQ: How does APAC21 differentiate its offering and events from other players? How are you able to get such an A* class of speakers?

TF: Now in its fourth year, theAsia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit has secured a reputation for a hard-hitting agenda and bringing together the world’s leading agribusinesses, growers, CPG and ingredient brands, entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers. Our speaker faculty comprises the entire agri-food value chain to offer a complete picture of the challenges and opportunities we face and to facilitate the partnerships needed for greater security and sustainability in Asia’s agri-food system.

Through extensive research and networking all year round we are able to secure an A* class of speakers. Led by Managing Director Jennie Moss, Rethink’s team of researchers and writers constantly challenge ourselves to offer rich, inspiring content that asks the right questions and draws in some of the world’s most influential figures – building the profile of our conferences and ensuring that our events are top of the agenda for the global agri-food ecosystem.

We have hosted numerous virtual summits over the past year and have been blown away by their success. This year, we are transitioning to hybrid events that combine the best of both worlds, in-person elements that we have all missed so much and a virtual experience tailored to a global audience. Day 1 of the summit will be a physical event, broadcast live to an international online audience, followed by a livestreamed in-person workshop on Day 2, and virtual sessions on Days 2 and 3. Join us as we explore the possibilities for innovation at this critical time for global food production.

GQ: Any special/big reveals planned that you can hint about?

TF: Yes, there are a few summit highlights we can share! These include:

We are thrilled to have partnered with agri-food giants CPF (Thailand) and Cargill (Asia-Pacific) for two Innovation Challenges for start-ups focusing on alternative proteins and digital solutions to connect a sustainable supply chain. Three finalists from each Innovation Challenge will present their ideas to the judging panel and our global summit audience, before the winners are crowned.

With climate challenges intensifying, natural capital evaluation, governance and investment are rising in importance. A leader in this emerging field, and Strategic Partner for the summit, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will host a ‘Green Finance & Natural Capital Investment Models’ workshop with speakers from ADM, LDC, Olam and New Forests. The live workshop will be streamed to our virtual audience, bringing together key players to discuss some of the most pressing challenges faced by Asia’s agri-food industry.

Technology innovation ensures a thriving agri-food ecosystem that can stand the test of time. Regional accelerators and innovation incubators from Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong, amongst others, will introduce their most exciting agri-food start-ups throughout the event, showcasing the incredible innovation and talent that the Asia-Pacific region has to offer.

The full Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit programme with speaker faculty and delegate registration are available at www.agrifoodinnovation.com

Lead image courtesy of Cauldron Foods.


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    We INFORM. We INSPIRE. We EMPOWER. Founded by serial entrepreneur Sonalie Figueiras in 2011, Green Queen is an award-winning sustainability & impact media platform advocating for social & environmental change in Asia. Our mission is to shift consumer behaviour through our authentic, original and ground-breaking content.

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