Yesterday, on 13 June, the European potato community has gathered in Oslo, Norway, for the Europatat Congress 2019. Under the slogan “The timeless potato: A dynamic and innovative food”, the annual event organised by Europatat, the European Potato Trade Association, and NFGF, the Norwegian Association of Fruit and Vegetable wholesalers, has focused on the many assets of the sector in innovation, sustainability and circular economy.
Gilles Fontaine, President of Europatat, opened the Congress: “The Europatat Congress has become a key date for the potato sector in Europe, and this year edition in Norway shows the growing importance of cooperating in a globalised market,” he said.
In the morning session, notable speakers such as Marianne Borgen, Mayor of Oslo, highlighted the importance of sustainability and how potatoes are a key ingredient for a green future. During his presentation, Arne Ivar Sletnes, Head of International Affairs of the Norwegian Agricultural Cooperatives, gave a Norwegian perspective of the current International trade policy. Trade must answer to current challenges such as increased world population, land and water shortage, and climate change.
Later in the morning, two case studies showcased how the Norwegian potato sector has adapted to consumer demands related with health, sustainability and convenience. Ingeborg Flones, CEO at HOFF SA, demonstrated how to be successful in pursuing a circular economy within the potato section; while Åsmund Bjertnæs, CEO of Bjertnaes & Hoel, showed how to connect with consumers and teach the next generation.
The afternoon session opened with the keynote speech of Anita Krohn, Norwegian business executive and winner of several international awards, including “Best Female Leader in the ICT Industry”, who gave an inspiring speech on how to lead in changing times.
As former CEO of Innovation Norway, Anita Krohn highlighted the importance of sifting from management to leadership in order to speed up the business transformation required to survive these challenging times. Afterwards, Borghilg Glorvigen, Project Manager of the Norwegian Potato Forum, has presented the main activities that the campaign “Imagine a world without potatoes” will have in Norway.
Closing the Europatat Congress 2019, Raquel Izquierdo de Santiago, Managing Director of Europatat, said: “After today’s inspiring presentations we can conclude that innovation cannot overlook sustainability, and sustainability cannot overlook innovation”.
With more than 100 participants from 15 different countries, the Europatat Congress 2019 and side events have received extremely positive feedback, higlighting the high quality of the speakers and their refreshing and inspiring messages.