The Future of Food event brought together three hospitality sector projects by Tampere University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University in an afternoon where they discussed the different perspectives of precisely that, the future of food. This afternoon event at TAMK Catering Studio Living Lab of Food & Sustainability collected around 50 participants. Living labs are perfect environments to bring stakeholders together to innovate and to network.

The participants heard about the aims and learnings from the FUSILLI Project, together with catering and hospitality sector development projects ‘KYVYKÄS’, enhancing ability of change, and ‘Rethink Gastro’, improving well-being, productivity, and business of catering companies. 

The COVID-19 crisis has affected the operations and future prospects of the tourism and catering industry. Moreover, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has, on its behalf, affected profitability due to rising costs of food ingredients and energy. It has also lowered purchasing power of customers. In addition to these acute challenges, conventional food production contributes to climate change and burdens the environment.

 “A sustainable food system must be viewed from many levels: climate, biodiversity, food security, and the justice of sustainability transition. Actually, hotel, restaurant, and catering field (horeca) is facing a so-called multi-crisis, in which we must solve all abovementioned wicked problems and the challenges in the industry’s attractiveness, cost and profitability as well”, says Sanna Luoto from TAMK.

Dreaming about the future food and food services  

 In this event we were dreaming about the future food and food services fitting within the boundaries of one planet and what kind of opportunities the future offers to companies.

One possible solution is the planetary health diet.

  • A planetary health diet would secure sufficient food supply for the growing population of the earth, prevent deaths caused by poor diet, and at the same time promote sustainable development and curb climate change.
  • The diet emphasises fruit, vegetables, whole grain, nuts, legumes, and good quality vegetable oils. Portions of animal-based food is instead very limited.

A sustainable food production and consumption can be promoted in many ways, such as by directing agricultural production, taxation, and policies. Within FUSILLI Project, Tampere University of Applied Sciences underlines the role of the horeca industry: its’ education, research, as well as product and service development influencing people’s food choices every day. 

Inspiring panel discussion brought many ideas to the table 

 Sanna Luoto and Mikael Lindell from TAMK and FUSILLI Project team hosted a panel discussion for Tampere region’s horeca businesses to share their views. CEO Saija Leponiemi from university’s food service provider Campusravita Ltd. explained that since beginning of this year the canteen doesn’t offer beef anymore. Vegetarian lunch option is more easily available for students.

 Armi Rajala from Youth Centre Marttinen is a pioneer in organic and vegetarian food services. She challenged the companies to act and take tiny steps, which is better than staying passive. 

 Product Development Manager Maria Tammi from Saarioinen, privately owned Finnish food industry company and one of Finland’s leading food manufacturers, also participated in the discussion. Catering and hospitality management students were represented by Pihla Vartiainen.

 After the inspiring panel discussion, a workshop was organized and at the same time delicious tasters were served by TAMK students and Saarioinen Company. 

Brainstorming new products and services together

 In the workshop new sustainable products and services were developed by rapid prototyping. The topics for workshops included sustainable menu development, sustainable food producer co-operation, sustainability as a competitive advantage of a restaurant, activating consumers and households, competences around sustainable food and a themed-week of sustainable food in the Tampere Region. 

 The groups generated ideas and made prototypes of new products and services. In the end of the workshop the ideas were presented to all the participants. As a conclusion, there is plenty of room for joint innovation relating to customers, products, and services.

 Participants received many useful takeaways with them. The concept of “There’s strength in networks” was voted as the best one. The second was already a fairly finished concept, namely the Pirkanmaa Sustainable Food Week. More sustainable producer cooperation was ranked as the third best idea: activating producers, improving the meeting between producers and restaurants, and providing easier access to products, primarily by raising awareness.


“This is living lab development at its finest”

 Living labs are perfect environments to bring stakeholders together to innovate and network. Project Coordinator Ella Kallio from TAMK is really happy that higher education institution like TAMK can provide a framework for this kind of co-development.

 “This is living lab development at its finest. We learn from each other, and everyone can pick up the bits and pieces that they deem as important. Everyone can benefit from this opportunity in their own businesses and communities, and to engage their own staff. For us this gives a chance to bring ingredients to the education, and develop ourselves,” she said.


“Events like this are really inspiring!” 

“We were really pleased and positively surprised that this theme attracted such a wide range of participants. It creates hope that we are not alone in promoting this theme. It also brings more relevance and impact. This will surely turn out to be something we can build on,” said Luoto.T

The attendees appreciated the opportunity to gather around this important theme.

“It’s great to see that we are not alone on this topic. You can find a lot of people who think the same way, even if their approach might slightly differ from your own. It is really important and gives you strength and energy to go further”, said Armi Rajala.

According to student Pihla Vartiainen, many different levels and factors are needed for the change to happen.

“It is not enough that I change my own consumption habits or learn new things at school. It has to be wider, that’s why cooperation and networks are so important.”

Saija Leponiemi from Campusravita was happy to plan and chat with people:

“Days like this are tremendously inspiring! The most important concrete idea is cooperation; it is not intended that we alone ponder with these things. We have already had a huge amount of ideas and opportunities today and we will definitely promote them, she said.


Also Maria Tammi from Saarioinen promised to keep going on in activating herself and others:

“Thank you for all the contacts that have come from around this topic. Today I have got more views on the subject. I promise that my 34-person team will now learn more about planetary diets.”

Author: Sanna Luoto and Hanna Ylli, FUSILLI Tampere
Photo credits: Hanna Ylli