GET TO KNOW: Leah Bessa, Co-Founder, Gourmet Grubb
Leah is a 26-year-old innovator who has taken a new stance on creating natural foods. Completing her studies in 2016 at Stellenbosch University in MSC Food Science and is currently based in Cape Town, she wants a clear vision for the future of insects in South Africa. Leah wants to eventually redefine the way people perceive the consumption of insects.
Leah Bessa is the co-founder of Gourmet Grubb and will be a panelist at the Food Leadership Forum 2018, on Day 2 and will be part of the Panel discussion: Disruptive foodstuff trends – Protein alternatives. This session looks at what’s out there already, what there will be and importantly, how can consumers be convinced. There isn’t enough land on the planet to satisfy worldwide animal protein consumption. Billions of people have never eaten a steak meal – and never will. Supplying protein to an increasingly populated planet is the biggest challenge of the 21st Century. Test tube meats, insect farming and fermented algaes offer quality proteins.
What do you believe has been the key change in the F&B sector over the past five years?
LB: I think the biggest shift in the food and beverage sector has been the massive health trend that has picked up over the last few years. As a result, food companies have been focusing on both super food ingredients and those that are high in protein. I believe one of the main drivers behind this change is that consumers have become more aware of what goes into the food that they are consuming, as well as what those foods do to their body. This knowledgeable consumer base has created a demand for products and meals that are nutritious and have far less refined ingredients. This has resulted in more alternative food sources being introduced into meals and products across all the entire food industry.
Where do you see the three key challenges in the industry over the next five years?
LB: -Sustainability and environmentally friendly farming. The biggest challenge for the food industry is sustainable food production and sustainable food manufacturing. As a result, a lot of research is going into the unsustainability of traditional farming and food production, and looking for novel farming methods and novel food ingredients that are considered sustainable to produce and less taxing on the environment.
-Natural ingredients and clean labeling. Consumers are no longer just buying products without reading and researching the ingredients on the label. This has created a demand for products and meals that are honest, nutritious and have far less refined ingredients. This means food manufacturers are going to have to reformulate products to remove all the unwanted additives and fillers that consumers no longer want in their products, whilst still trying to maintain the functionality and taste of their existing products.
-I believe there is a going to be a massive shift in the eating patterns of meat products. Consumers are looking for appetising meat alternatives that are considered healthier and less taxing on the environment. Plant based protein options are already on the rise, and it is predicted to become even more popular in the near future. To this point, far more dairy alternatives will enter the market as well, for very similar reasons, as well as animal welfare concerns regarding the farming of dairy cows.
The F&B sector is undergoing huge change. What are the three tips you would give for success in the coming five years?
LB: -Firstly, I’d say take the time to understand your target market. Delve into the things that really drive them as people, and focus on ways to really connect with your target market on a level that makes them feel that you as a company/brand are really serving their needs/desires.
-Be flexible. The industry is changing at such a fast rate that the only way to remain relevant is to be flexible.
-Focus on quality. With expenses becoming ever increasing it is tempting for companies to try and cut costs at every corner, but I believe it is important that these cost reductions shouldn’t be at the cost of the quality of the product. Consumers notice these small changes and that’s where you lose their trust and loyalty.
Are there any specific areas in the (sub-Saharan) African F&B market that you believe are unique?
LB: The insect market, specifically Mopane worms are incredibly popular in sub Saharan Africa. What I find interesting, is that despite its popularity, it is quite unregulated and not much is understood about its economic potential.
Which type of people do you believe would gain the most form attending your session this year?
LB: I think anyone who is interested in novel food concepts would find my session very interesting, as there is a lot that has happened in the insect as food industry over such a short period of time. Those who are looking at alternative, up and coming food ingredients would find this session particularly interesting, as it is a new sector, which presents many opportunities for the food industry.
The Food Leadership Forum runs from June 24-26 2018 at The Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg.
13.20pm DAY 2 Disruptive foodstuff trends: Protein alternatives
The Food Leaders Forum is a series of spontaneous and forthright panel discussions on the key strategic opportunities and challenges shaping the F&B industry at this time of accelerated expansion and change. With such important topics to be discussed and high profile industry leaders taking part we recommend you to book your seat today.