GENERATION Z are said to be among the most educated and socially conscious generations.
Thought For Food Foundation (TFF) founder and chief executive officer Christine Gould said youths from this age group appreciate nutritious and sustainable food produced ethically.
“It is clear that South-East Asia is fast becoming a hub for agri-food tech innovation and is ahead of more established markets.
“Hence Thought For Food Foundation built our first official TFF regional hub here in Malaysia.
“We want to build on TFF’s strong track record and presence here to invest in technology startups in Malaysia and across the region,” she said at the Future FoodTech Festival in Publika shopping gallery, Kuala Lumpur.
The festival introduced innovative food products that would appeal to environmentally-conscious youths.
Gould said TFF wanted countries in the region to become front runners for innovation in the food system.
“Malaysia has so much potential to lead this initiative.
“There are the right institutions of higher education, right climatic conditions, high youth population and leaders who are into digital technology.
“We need to link these elements into how food is grown, how it is consumed, how we deal with food waste and how we can position ourselves to lead.
“For instance, urban farming is becoming increasingly popular.
“We should link digital technology into making food more localised in cities.
“New food concepts using seaweed, algae as well as mainstream crops like jackfruit infused with local flavours is what Gen Z is looking for.
“They want food that is affordable yet made ethically and is safe for consumers and the environment,” said Gould, who is Swedish.
TFF is a US-based international non-profit organisation.
TFF South-East Asia’s board senior member Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Syed Jalaludin Syed Salim described the Future FoodTech Festival as a first-of-its-kind event in Malaysia.
“It is a celebration of our country’s renowned culture of delicious, diverse foods and of our region’s rising leadership in technological innovation.
“We need to come together for a new collaborative environment that is focused on increasing investments, creating policy incentives, building capacities and developing smart partnerships that will develop and scale the solutions we need to meet pressing local challenges that can have a global impact,” he said.
Meanwhile, former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin, who is TFF South-East Asia regional hub honorary board senior member, said he was proud to have such an event taking place here.
“I am proud to see Malaysia organising this event to support the growth of this vitally important sector for our economy and future.
“The products here show that it is possible to have solutions that benefit consumers, farmers and the planet,” he said.
The event also saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between TFF and the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), an agency under Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, and other partners.
MaGIC facilitates, navigates and enables the ecosystem with the mission of strengthening Malaysia’s position as an emerging innovative nation.
The parties agreed to explore potential avenues of collaboration between MaGIC’s and TFF’s entrepreneurial innovation programmes and partners for the promotion of agriculture, water and agri-food tech start-ups in Malaysia.
Other MOU partners were Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences Association, HELP University, Artem (Venture Capital), Back2Nature, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Startup Malaysia, The Young SEAkers, General Pacific, Entomal, UiTM and Sunway XFarms.