Congratulatory remarks by Australian Ambassador HE James Choi
6th Seoul International Food Forum, Thursday 12 April 2018
Conrad Hotel, Seoul
President Kim Joo Hyun, Minister Ryu Young Jin, Representative Kim Hyun Kwon, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
My sincere congratulations to the Financial News for hosting the 6th Seoul International Food Forum.
I also acknowledge the ongoing commitment of the Financial News and the Official Supporters to Korea’s food industry and international food in Korea.
I would also like to thank you in the audience, representatives from food industries, government and academia.
Food is one aspect of our lives that cuts across cultures, boundaries and societies. The social act of eating is part of being human, as much as speaking and language, and how we take care of ourselves, our families and our societies.
Food is something that binds people together, whether it be for daily nutrition or for sheer pleasure and delight.
The topic of this year’s forum “Food – Maintaining Health” is timely and relevant. There is an increasing global demand to advance food technology to meet increasing consumer needs for healthy food.
As the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said, “healthy people need healthy and sustainable food systems”.
However, our agriculture and food processing sectors are facing clear challenges.
The world’s population is expected to reach 9.8 billion people in 2050 – that’s 2.2 billion more than today.
Land and water resources will shrink.
Through greater global connectivity and increasing wealth, the nutritional demands within populations will continue to increase.
Food innovation will be crucial to improve the availability of safe and healthy food.
We will need to increase agricultural productivity and ensure environmental sustainability. The focus will need to be on enhancing food safety and maximising nutritional value. Issues such as food processing technologies, new packaging and advances in transportation will be part of the solution in meeting increased demand for healthy food.
It is essential that government policies and regulatory settings support innovation and provide certainty to businesses to invest and implement innovation.
But innovation is not the silver bullet. We also need open and transparent global food markets.
This enables production to be located in areas where resources are used relatively efficiently.
It contributes to food security by increasing the stability and reliability of food supply.
For consumers, it increases the choice and affordability of food.
Public and private partnerships and investment must continue. Both Korea and Australia direct significant public investment into agricultural research and development.
In fact, Korea’s public investment in this field is one of the highest in the world. It is key though, that there is space for private investment and ideas generation.
The Australian Centre for Field Robotics is a good illustration of how essential a multi-disciplinary approach is to achieving break-throughs.
With partners from government and industry, the Australian Centre for Field Robotics is one of the largest robotics research institutes in the world.
They are working on a range of innovative projects involving robotics and intelligent software, such as unpiloted air and ground vehicles for farming specialty crops and weed management.
Australia and Korea have agri-tech sectors with serious potential. It will be exciting to see what we can do together.
Today’s forum is a fine example of great public/private collaboration.
Open dialogues about the future of food are part of the solution.
Some conversations will not be easy. For example, around how the adoption of biotechnology, underpinned by science-based regulations, can play a role in dealing with emerging challenges, including climate change and the pressures on global food supplies.
Another is the intersection of automation and farm employment. We need to progress these conversations to prepare for the future.
Australia has an impressive track record as a reliable provider of premium, clean and safe food products to Korea and the world.
Australia’s agri and food sectors are also considering how to meet consumer demands, harness innovation and grow – so that we continue to be a trusted supplier of safe and healthy food now and for future populations.
The future of healthy food can be shaped by both our countries.
Congratulations again on holding the 6th Seoul International Food Forum.
I look forward to hearing about the results of your important discussions.