DFSS is coming up March 29th and we’re bringing some of the participants to you now with a pre-summit interview. In this edition we talk to Andy Kusumo, Director of Science and Technology, Monde Nissin. If you want to see a listing of speakers and sessions, please click here. To register as a delegate, click here.
1. You often speak on the health and environment reasons for moving away from animal based foods. When did you first hear and this, and what convinced you?
Over the last 20 years, I have been fortunate to be given opportunities to engage in multidisciplinary scientific activities, both in academic as well as industry environment. I aspire to use my background to share facts with people for them to have a view of what’s right and good for themselves and others. Few years ago, I had the opportunity to join Monde Nissin to support their mission to bring health and environmental sustainability through alternative foods. Based on increasingly available evidence, it is clear that the increasing humankind dependence on animal-based food is not sustainable, and alternative options are undoubtedly required.
2. What are some of your favourite sources of information on alternative foods: books, websites, academic journals, etc.?
Essentially all of them. If there is one book that I could recommend to people to read, it is the China Study by Dr. Colin Campbell. The book talks about the results of comprehensive nutrition studies to illustrate impact of food on health and the findings are virtually hard to ignore. I think whomever read this book will afterward consider differently as to what they eat.
3. You are Director of Science and Technology at Monde Nissin, Quorn’s parent company. What are some of the topics of your current research?
Monde Nissin understands that a future food needs to have three things: 1) nutrition and health, 2) environmental sustainability, and 3) taste and versatility. Mycoprotein, which is the key and common ingredient in Quorn foods, has all these three things. Since Mycoprotein discovery 50 years ago and Quorn first launch 30 years ago, we have carried out scientific studies to advance our understanding in each of those three areas. This is Quorn legacy and Monde Nissin will not stop to advance this legacy to achieve our mission.
4. Looking ahead, what do you see as future trends in alternative foods?
Referring to protein food space, I am predicting that alternative foods will follow a similar trajectory as what happened in energy, with more alternative energy coming into the picture such solar and wind. Similarly, in the future there would be increasingly more food options which are derived from alternative protein sources, such as plants, fungus like Mycoprotein, or others like insects or algae.
5. Has Monde Nissin considered venturing into plant based meat or clean (lab grown) meat?
Our overarching mission is to bring health and sustainability through food as well pleasure in experiencing our food. We do not restrict on the “how”.
6. What are your concerns, i.e., what keeps you awake at night?
I am concerned about two groups of food system stakeholders, being a government leader or a consumer. One group is those already informed yet still choose not to act upon it. The other group is those who are not yet informed, and hence see no reason to change with regards to foods. I think the latter is still the majority at the moment, so the question is how could we bring facts to this second group, this is where I think scientists could contribute to humankind.
7. You have lived in Indonesia, the U.S., and Singapore. How are these countries the same and different in terms of their acceptance of new, greener foods?
The digital technology and its fast advancement render globalization of information related to food. Consequently, regardless of the country, more people would be aware of the impact of food on health and environment, so these two aspects would be important in the consideration of people when they choose for their diet. However, we should not forget that food is as much a nourishment as a culture, which is unique in different country. So the acceptance of a new food would depend on how the food integrate into the culture of the country.
8. Will Quorn be moving towards more 100% vegan products?
Quorn offers both vegan and vegetarian options. We will bring in more vegan options in the next couple of months to meet the higher demands from consumers. Nevertheless, we are here to make the transition to healthier and more sustainable lifestyle easier for all consumers, not only the vegan consumers, so Quorn will continue offer both options.