Empty shelves in a fridge in a supermarket in Perth, and a sign urging people socially distance. Taken by Christina Pollard

Corporate power, dietary guidelines and ultra-processed food on the menu at Food Futures 2022

Corporate power, dietary guidelines and ultra-processed food on the menu at Food Futures 2022

Christina Pollard, Melanie Parker, and Food Futures Conference Advisory Committee

Over 170 delegates attended the Food Futures Conference 2022, held Wednesday 16 to Thursday 17 March. Expert speakers presented on a range of topics, within the theme of transforming food systems for the planetary and public good.

We’d like to thank our sponsors, Dietitians Australia (Affiliate Sponsor) and Department of Health, Tasmania (Associate Supporter), and the presenters and attendees, who all helped make this Conference a success.

The first two plenary sessions of the Conference are summarised below. Further instalments detailing the remaining three plenary sessions will soon follow.


Welcome to Country

Ngunnawal Elder Aunty Violet Sheridan opened Food Futures 2022 through giving the Welcome to Country.


Opening Plenary Session, ‘Food Systems for local and global good’

The first plenary session analysed local and global food systems and featured expert keynote speakers Professor Jennifer Clapp and Professor Sarah McNaughton.

Unfortunately, due to technical issues Professor Mario Herrero was unable to join live at the Conference, however we’re investigating further options to avoid registrants missing out on his presentation.


‘Dietary guidelines, healthy and sustainable dietary patterns and food systems’

The first of the keynote speakers was Prof Sarah McNaughton, of Deakin University’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), presenting on ‘Dietary guidelines, healthy and sustainable dietary patterns and food systems’.

Associate Professor Christina Pollard, who chaired the session with Dr Penny Love, said that,

“Professor Sarah McNaughton’s presentation clearly outlined that nutrition evidence supports the impact of overall dietary patterns for health and the need to consider that the environmental context and health implications has moved on from ‘nutrients’.

“Countries are beginning to support the principles of sustainable healthy diets in dietary guidelines, and principles exist on how to do this.  There is clearly a need to underpin and apply the dietary guidelines and broad principles to the urgently needed Australian Food and Nutrition Policy.”


Mapping corporate concentration and power in the global food system

The highly anticipated presentation, titled ‘Mapping corporate concentration and power in the global food system’, by Professor Jennifer Clapp of University of Waterloo was insightful, emphasising how corporate concentration must be addressed, in order to truly transform systems for the public and planetary good.

A/Prof Pollard said,

“Professor Jennifer Clapp outlined the mergers that have occurred with food companies over the last decade and how this influences all aspects of the global food system. Mega companies dominate the global food system from seeds to farms, fertilisers, processing and trade, to packaging and retail.

“This leads to power that can undermine consumer welfare, enabling these companies to manipulate food related policy across the entire food system, and across the globe.  There is a need to bring together public health and stakeholder organisations and citizens to address these issues.”

PHAA Food and Nutrition Special Interest Group members, A/Prof Christina Pollard & Dr Penny Love, facilitated the Opening Plenary session.


Plenary Session 2: ‘Ecological Nutrition’

The Ecological Nutrition Conceptual Framework for promoting healthy and sustainable diets

Professor Mark Lawrence of Deakin IPAN focussed on the scientific basis for the Ecological Nutrition Conceptual Framework, and how this can be used to transform food systems.

Prof Lawrence noted how changes over time had occurred in approaches to nutrition, and that an ecological nutrition approach could be beneficial to food systems, noting the vulnerability of the nutrient profiling pathway.

Chair of the Conference Advisory Committee, A/Prof Pollard summarised the Prof’s presentation, saying,

“Prof Lawrence explained the importance of applying insights from ecological and evolutionary theories to the planning of nutrition activities so they are fit-for-purpose for promoting healthy and sustainable diets.”


‘Nutritional Ecology’

Professor David Raubenheimer of the University of Sydney and co-author of the book Eat Like the Animals’ presented on his specialty area of nutritional ecology.

Professor Raubenheimer spoke about the complexities of food structures and nutrition, and described his and Professor Stephen Simpson AC’s experimental model of macronutrients related to obesity.

A/Prof Pollard noted that,

“Professor David Raubenheimer provided an in-depth analysis of the mechanistic evidence that underpins the scientific basis to Ecological Nutrition. The final section in the session was shared by three inspiring higher degree researchers (Ms Kate Sievert, Mrs Cherie Russell and Ms Sarah Dickie), who provided examples of applying Ecological Nutrition to a range of topical policy issues.”

The three PhD candidates from Deakin University, who run an advocacy group called Healthy Food Systems Australia, spoke on pertinent policy concerns related to ecological nutrition, including:

  • Red and processed meat, plant-based imitation meats and cellular meats
  • Reductionist vs holist approaches
  • Ultra-processed foods
  • Nutrition classification
  • National Nutrition policy

Plenary Session 2 was facilitated by Dr Phillip Baker, Deakin University.


Food supply, food governance, and policy discussed

In the concurrent sessions of the conference, several pertinent topics were also discussed, including sustainable food supply, food systems governance, and policy action.

There were also valuable networking opportunities given to registrants throughout the day via the virtual events system.


Watch for the next blog instalment on Food Futures 2022

Keep an eye out for the future instalments of this blog series on Food Futures Conference 2022, which will feature Plenary Session 3, ‘Food Sovereignty’, with Prof Bruce Pascoe, Ms Joshua Gilbert and Dr Malek Batal, Plenary Session 4, ‘Food Equity’, and the Closing Plenary Session on ‘Social mobilisation for planetary and public good’.



Image: A supermarket in Perth, Feb 2022, taken by Associate Professor Christina Pollard.

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