A socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organizer of international conventions, congress, exhibitions, business, social and sporting, public, and cultural events.

The Roscongress Foundation is a socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organizer of international conventions; exhibitions; and business, public, sporting, and cultural events. It was established in pursuance of a decision by the President of the Russian Federation.

The Foundation was established in 2007 with the aim of facilitating the development of Russia’s economic potential, promoting its national interests, and strengthening the country’s image. One of the roles of the Foundation is to comprehensively evaluate, analyse, and cover issues on the Russian and global economic agendas. It also offers administrative services, provides promotional support for business projects and attracting investment, and helps foster social entrepreneurship and charitable initiatives.

Each year, the Foundation’s events draw participants from 208 countries and territories, with more than 15,000 media representatives working on-site at Roscongress’ various venues. The Foundation benefits from analytical and professional expertise provided by 5000 people working in Russia and abroad. In addition, it works in close cooperation with 160 economic partners; industrialists’ and entrepreneurs’ unions; and financial, trade, and business associations from 75 countries worldwide.

The Roscongress Foundation has Telegram channels in Russian (t.me/Roscongress), English (t.me/RoscongressDirect), and Spanish (t.me/RoscongressEsp). Official website and Information and Analytical System of the Roscongress Foundation: roscongress.org.

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Transforming the Food Industry in a Post-COVID World
3 June 2021
11:00—12:15
KEY CONCLUSIONS
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Today, global agriculture <...> produces over 10 billion tonnes of food annually, as well as a wide range of non-foods. For example, they include 4 million square metres of wood. The produce of global agriculture <...> is worth almost USD 3.5 trillion. All the food produced globally would be more than enough to feed the planet’s population. Nevertheless, hunger remains a problem in the new millennium — Oleg Kobyakov, Director, Liaison Office with the Russian Federation, The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The global agricultural market, as well as its stability and wellbeing have a direct impact on the stability and wellbeing of the people in all countries. They also have a direct impact on national security. The year 2020 has changed all the relations in all spheres of our life. Starting from 2020, the global food market has been going through the time of troubles. We need to learn how to survive in this new reality. Thank goodness, Russian agriculture has survived all the challenges, though all the global logistics chains have changed, much like business environment. Russian agriculture and processing and food industries have survived the pandemic. We did not suffer from food shortages. Besides, our export has grown up to USD 30.5 billion. This is a very solid figure — Victoria Abramchenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

Today, roughly 30 billion out of all global technology investment account for agricultural technologies. Over the last five years, Tencent, Microsoft, and Google <...> have increased their investments in agriculture. <...> Technologies are fairly new to agriculture: basically, the market changed five years ago. Global investments in agriculture were less than 5 billion just five years ago — Elena Baturova, Director, Center for the Development of Financial Technologies, Rosselkhozbank.

Food security is a matter of national security. This is something many countries now understand. Qatar had to experience it first-hand due to the geopolitical situation we found ourselves in. COVID has taught us many things: we need to move fast and introduce technologies fast — Mohamed Badr S K Al-Sadah, Chief Executive Officer, Hassad Food Company.

Global food industry should solve just three tasks. First of all, we should prevent famine. Secondly, we need to ensure people’s health at the same time. Most importantly, we should not damage the planet’s environment — Evgeny Lyashenko, Executive Director, EFKO Group of Companies.

The post-COVID era has changed the world generally and agriculture in particular. <...> We all understand that over 500 million people are beyond – it is hard for me to say the word ‘famine’ out loud – a normal ration. On the other hand, we see that agriculture index is fairly high – wheat, rice, or palm oil has not cost this much in a very long time. It creates a dangerous situation that can potentially lead to social tensions — Dmitry Mazepin, General Director, URALCHEM.

ISSUES
COVID has aggravated the problem of hunger on the planet

According to FAO estimates, in the last pre-COVID year 690 million people in the world suffered from chronic hunger. Almost one in eight people. The COVID pandemic became a major setback, which brought the problem of hunger to up to 130 million people. <...> It is evident that the number of people who suffer from hunger will exceed 700 million — Oleg Kobyakov, Director, Liaison Office with the Russian Federation, The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

COVID has created the following problem: people have lost their jobs, while food prices have gone almost 30% up, so people cannot afford it. Different statistics show over half a billion people in the world have lost their jobs. They cannot afford [to buy food, – Ed.] due to an increase in prices — Mohamed Badr S K Al-Sadah, Chief Executive Officer, Hassad Food Company.

A global drop in production and demand

The global demand has dropped, much like production due to new sanitary rules. Many countries have gone through monthslong lockdowns. This is why demand has shrunk. In addition to that, we are witnessing a drop in the number of seasonal workers — Victoria Abramchenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

A break in the usual logistics chains

Global logistics chains. The usual logistics chains were broken during the pandemic. It applies to both relations among countries and within them — Victoria Abramchenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

A change in behaviours

People started cooking at home and ordering food deliveries, which resulted in an explosive growth of online trade and food delivery segment. Many people with university degrees got jobs in these segments, as they lost their main source of income — Victoria Abramchenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

A need for more packaging

The need for various packaging – primarily environment friendly packaging – has grown multi-fold. Currently, we are suffering from a certain shortage that has an impact on the final cost of the product — Victoria Abramchenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

Vulnerability of import substitution

We suddenly felt that we are vulnerable in certain areas. I am talking about import substitution. Russian Federation is somewhat dependent on imported seeds, plant protection agents, genetic materials, and other factors. States are ensuring their national security through import substitution — Victoria Abramchenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

A need for healthy food

What kind of food do we need? We need good healthy and diverse food. Despite the use of state-of-the-art technologies, cultured meat, and synthetic products, the majority of the world’s food is produced naturally. Our food behaviours and habits, as well as traditional diets dictate this situation will remain unchanged — Oleg Kobyakov, Director, Liaison Office with the Russian Federation, The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Evidentiary medicine proves that our health condition is directly related to our diet. The question is not the diet itself, but the quality of food we consume — Elena Baturova, Director, Center for the Development of Financial Technologies, Rosselkhozbank.

A lack of investment in agricultural technologies

Unfortunately, we do not see enough investment in agricultural start-ups — Elena Baturova, Director, Center for the Development of Financial Technologies, Rosselkhozbank.

Key disease spread threats

Key areas most vulnerable to disease spread are naturally South East Asia and Africa. It does not only apply to animal breeding. <...> We have multiple risks. We share an objective with the Government: we need to foresee those risks and do our best based on our awareness — Sergey Dankvert, Head, Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor).

The existing animal breeding model is a threat to the planet’s environment and resources

Some people still do not realize that the global animal breeding industry produces more greenhouse gases than the world’s transport. By mid 21st century, the planet’s population will reach almost 10 billion people. If we do not change our consumption model, the animal breeding industry will have to increase its yield 1.5 times. If we keep in mind that today the global animal breeding industry uses 80% of land and almost half of all the fresh water, the forecast will be discouraging — Evgeny Lyashenko, Executive Director, EFKO Group of Companies.

Animal breeding poses a higher risk of new pandemics

The existing food production model is another important aspect. It poses a threat to human health. <...> When COVID appeared, we started analyzing what factors pose a higher risk of a new pandemic. <...> I believe that very few in our audience realize that 70% antibiotics in the world is consumed by the animal breeding industry. There is a problem of pathogens growing more and more antibiotic resistant. Experts predict that by 2050 antibiotic resistance death rate will outstrip cancer — Evgeny Lyashenko, Executive Director, EFKO Group of Companies.

Today, we understand that globally about 30 billion head of livestock are kept fairly densely. It facilitates a faster virus mutation and transmission to humans. We keep hearing that new diseases pose a threat to humans, such as swine influenza and avian flu — Evgeny Lyashenko, Executive Director, EFKO Group of Companies.

Estimating every supplier’s carbon footprint is impossible

We are now calculating our carbon footprint as a company, while in the future we will need to start tracking the carbon footprint. We will need to turn to farmers and show the carbon footprint of every supplier, while it is dozens of thousands of companies sometimes. <...> We understand that neither we, nor our colleagues, nor our competition, nor our partners will be able to reach out to every single farmer — Aleksandr Shenderyuk-Zhidkov, Director, Sodruzhestvo .

SOLUTIONS
Food summit

The 2030 sustainable development agenda now includes an ambitious objective – to eliminate hunger as a thing and ensure adequate nutrition to humankind. In order to achieve it and reach this milestone (based on last year’s estimate of 700 million), we will need to reduce the number of people suffering from hunger by 70 million annually for the next 10 years. Evidently, it is unattainable at current rates. This is why at FAO initiative UN Secretary General António Guterres announced the Food Systems Summit during the high-level week of the UN General Assembly in September — Oleg Kobyakov, Director, Liaison Office with the Russian Federation, The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Digitalizing the agricultural market

The pandemic has accelerated the total digitalization of all spheres of our life. Agriculture is no exception. Besides, total digitalization resulted in business cutting on its costs through introducing robotization, artificial intelligence, and blockchain. It is done to be able to track the produce from fields to end consumers and to confirm the safety of the produce — Victoria Abramchenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

Creating veterinary and sanitary shields

We have learned to react to new virus strains fast. <...> I believe that every state – and the Russian Federation follows this path – needs to create its own sanitary and veterinary shield. Veterinary security ensures the security of the whole food chain — Victoria Abramchenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

Development of agrobiotechnologies

The most promising technologies in agriculture are those related to agrobiotechnologies. Today, these technologies help increase production efficiency and fundamentally change agricultural operations — Elena Baturova, Director, Center for the Development of Financial Technologies, Rosselkhozbank.

A growing number of tech companies

What needs to be done to increase the number of tech companies in Russia? Two factors. Highly skilled engineers and investments are needed in this industry — Elena Baturova, Director, Center for the Development of Financial Technologies, Rosselkhozbank.

Production of cultured meat

We started with cultured meat. <...> First and foremost, this product helps the environment. I think everybody has heard that cultured meat takes 14 times less land, dozens of times less water, while the carbon footprint is 10 times lower. <...> Secondly, we realize that this product helps human health. Why? <...> It cannot have any animal pathogens. It does not have any antibiotics or growth stimulators. Besides, its helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases — Evgeny Lyashenko, Executive Director, EFKO Group of Companies.

Creating a single system to track the carbon footprint

The key challenge our country is facing now is creating a single system to track the carbon footprint. <...> We see great examples when our Government adopted the grain law last year, which helps us as a county control the quality of all the grain we export. <...> Our suggestion and request: as a society we need to unite and start tracking the carbon footprint. This is the only way for us to reach out to every farmer and demand appropriate calculations. I think that the grain law can be used for the carbon footprint, which would strengthen our position in terms of both global and domestic competition — Aleksandr Shenderyuk-Zhidkov, Director, Sodruzhestvo .