More than 200 high-level innovators in the food and beverage industry explored the challenges and successes they face as they continually strive to become even more sustainable during The Future of Food USA through a panel featuring CommonGround volunteer Kellie Blair, who farms in Iowa, and National Corn Growers Association Corn Board Member Brandon Hunnicutt, who also serves as Chairman of Field to Market in addition to farming in Nebraska. The session, Farmer Perspectives: The Key Sustainability Challenges and Successes from the Ground, shared the farmers’ personal experiences adopting sustainability practices and sparked discussions on how business can support farmers to reach shared goals together.
“We focused on the farmer perspective during our discussion of sustainability on our farms, how business can help, and what successes we have seen. On our own farm, and the farms of the other panelists, it seems we have some of the same challenges: weather, labor, defining sustainability and time,” said Blair. “Personally, I love the challenge of telling my farm story to those that may be skeptical about what we are doing. But, as always, I felt that my voice was heard.”
This virtual event, held March 23 to 25, brought together leading brands and key stakeholders to identify the main areas of opportunity and innovation within the food and beverage industry. During the annual event, food and beverage industry experts assessed what supply chain transformation actually means on the ground to ensure a more sustainable and resilient food system.
“As farmers, we should always be challenging ourselves. Continual improvement doesn’t mean that we are doing a bad job; it just means that we will continue to grow with the best information we have,” Blair said. “Climate, water quality, and soil quality need to be thought of as a systems approach, and no one silver bullet will fix. Agriculture can be a big key to the solution if we all work together!”
In addition to Blair and Hunnicutt, the panel, moderated by Innovation Forum Publishing Editor Ian Welsch, included Travis Hopcott, a cranberry farmer who supplies Ocean Spray and U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action CEO Erin Fitzgerald.
Attendees included representation from companies such as Molson Coors Beverage Company, Walmart, PepsiCo, Kellogg Company, Danone, Yum! Brands, BNP Paribas and Oatly.