Come join Meros at the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit, Singapore, October 31- Nov 2, 2023

We are incredibly pleased to be partnering with the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit in Singapore, to be held October 31 – Nov 2, 2023. Our goal is help bring more perspectives and voices from Japan’s food and agriculture innovation scene into the lively debates in Singapore.

Join us there! We’ll be happy to introduce you to people we know or navigate all the events going on.

Meros has been attending this event every year since it started. It has become one of our favorite events in the region, because unlike a basic conference or expo, this summit emphasizes learning, debating and presenting on solutions to the most pressing issues facing our industry. It is a chance to ask questions. A chance to connect with potential partners. A chance to hear from the world’s leading agribusinesses, food brands, growers, entrepreneurs, and investors to discuss how technology and investment can be targeted to have the greatest impact on the agri-food value chain in the Asia-Pacific region.

We have seen a growing number of Japanese companies attending the Summit in the last few years. But we still feel there are so many perspectives and experiences from Japan’s agri-food and technology scenes that would valuable additions to the debates, from Japanese food industry innovations to seaweed farming and aquaculture to biostimulants and soil health.

This year’s event will cover agri-food tech, indoor agriculture and blue economy (aquaculture and ocean-based businesses). Key topics for 2023 include:

  • Decarbonisation: Carbon Footprint, Carbon Markets and Climate Mitigation in Agriculture
  • Food Security: Addressing Supply Chain Disruptions and Building Resilience
  • Digital Transformation: De-Risking Smallholder Farming with Agri-Tech and Agri-Fintech
  • Soil Health: Ensuring a Stable Supply of Biological Crop Protection and Nutrition
  • CEA Resource Efficiency: Driving Technology and Policy Innovation for Energy Resilience
  • Indoor Farming Genetics: Expanding the Supply Chain for Genetically Optimised Seeds
  • Nutrition and Health: Health Aging, Clean-Label, and the Gut-Brain Axis
  • Future of Proteins in Asia: Animal,Plant-Based, Microbial & Cell-Based Proteins
  • Blue Food Production: Accelerating Digitisation and Circular Systems in Aquaculture
  • Scale-Up Finance: New Investment Models Supporting Agri-Tech and Food-Tech 
  • Strategic Partnerships: Building Bridges for a Food-Secure and Crisis-Proof Food System
  • Ecosystem Building: Connecting the Dots across the Asia-Pacific Region

The Summit offers many events occurring simultaneously, so it works for different people’s topics of interest and networking styles. There are panels and discussions led by thought-leaders and industry experts, who give real world examples and cutting-edge insights on technologies, trends and recent business successes and failures.

But the Summit also consciously engineers many opportunities for spontaneous meetings with new people – networking events, small round table discussions, 1-to-1 networking spaces, bottomless coffee, start-ups pitch events and lunches featuring new food products from attending start-ups and companies. It makes it easy to strike up conversations with new people, from start-ups, food brands and agribusinesses, investors and R&D departments.

Why Singapore? Singapore is rapidly becoming the APAC hub of the agrifood innovation eco-system, spurred by the Singapore government’s ambitious “30 by 30” vision, which aims for 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs to be produced locally by 2030, up from less than 10% today. But Singapore is also creating a supportive environment for entrepreneurship and innovation in the space (Meros has been blow away by the start-ups we have met and mentored through the GROW accelerator program in Singapore.) And the city’s access to regional markets makes it an attractive launchpad for new business in the region.  In short, Singapore is where many of the most influential discussions and product launches are being made today.

Join us!

Use our code MEROS10 for an extra 10% off or get in touch with us to learn more about how this dynamic event works.

Our summer research assistant has arrived – welcome Kana Ueno!

Our newest summer assistant has arrived and is already hard at work. Welcome, Kana Ueno!

Kana is an undergraduate student at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland where she is majoring in Sustainable Development Studies. While she grew up in Tokyo, she has an adventurous spirit that led her to choose to study in Switzerland for high school before moving to Scotland to continue her exploration of the world.

She is a full-time summer intern with us in Tokyo this summer and is already deep into research on aquaponics and its global players, supporting field interviews on Thai edible insect products sold in Japan and beginning research into her own independent project on sustainable palm oil.

Kana explained her motivations for wanting to join us this summer. “I wanted to be a summer assistant at Meros because I liked that Meros specializes in food and agribusiness consulting. Since I have been interested in the topic of sustainability and as it is what I major in at university, I was looking for work experience where I can learn how sustainability comes up “in the real world”. After reading the description of what Meros does and how Meros navigates decision-making along the value chain in the food industry, I instantly knew I can learn something new in this environment. I am still considering several possible career paths and I really wanted to know what consulting firms do and how they approach their work.”

This summer Kana will be diving into the complex issue of sustainable palm oil and the incentives and certifications that can encourage sustainable practices in palm oil supply. She expects to conduct interviews with palm oil sourcing experts in the EU and Japan to identify some best practices and leading players in sustainable palm oil.

“Although I am just starting to dig into the topic, I am aiming to find out how sustainable palm oil is procured by companies in Japan, with specific focus on the RSPO certification system and the guidelines/policies Japanese companies have proposed in terms of palm oil procurement. I had learned in my university studies about how palm oil plantations can have a destructive impact on the environment, and I became very curious about how this issue is perceived and being approached in the Japanese food industry. I am excited to dig deeper into this topic and find out the dilemmas companies are facing in sourcing sustainable palm oil, as well as what “sustainable” palm oil really means.”

Of course, as a Team Meros member, Kana works hard, but also plays hard. “I am looking forward to meeting up with my friends to explore izakaya Japanese pubs, especially in some of our favorite Tokyo areas such as Sangenjaya and Gakugei-daigaku. Though I am not a big fan of the humid and burning hot summer in Tokyo with its annoying mosquitoes, I am excited for the summer working at Meros and spending some good quality time with my friends and family. I definitely want to go for a drive whenever possible – I don’t have that many chances to drive in Scotland and I need to keep up my driving skills!  I am also planning to improve my golf game and travel with my family.”

“When I am in Scotland, out of all kinds of Japanese food, what I miss the most is definitely my mum’s homemade dishes like cabbage rolls and hijiki seaweed. I love any kind of cuisine and am always keen to try new foods, but when I am back in Tokyo nothing beats good sashimi and my izakaya favorites like dashimaki tamago, – rolled omelettes made of eggs and dashi. Yum!”

Meros back from conducting successful food safety seminars for Kenyan peanut processors

Meros just returned from a week in Kenya as part of the JICA SHEP program to work with local consultants to conduct a series of training programs to support entrepreneurs in the peanut butter processing industry. The Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment & Promotion (SHEP) program is a market-oriented agriculture program originally started by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Kenya in 2006 in increase farmer incomes with the philosophy of supporting farmers to “grow to sell”, not just “grow and sell’. The SHEP program has had remarkable success cases in increasing farmer incomes and has been replicated by JICA in other countries in Africa.

Kenya is now in its fourth cycle of JICA SHEP programs. In 2021 JICA SHEP initiated a new pilot project to support micro-entrepreneurs in crop processing. Peanut butter production in Homa Bay was chosen for this pilot. This year’s focus was to support the peanut butter micro-entrepreneurs’ efforts to develop a sustainable local industry.

Located in the eastern part of Kenya on the shores of Lake Victoria, Homa Bay is one of the most important groundnut production areas in Kenya. There is an emerging industry of young entrepreneurs who roast, grind, and process groundnuts into peanut butter. The Homa Bay peanut variety is called Homa Bay Red, which has a particularly high oil content and produces a smooth, creamy peanut butter.

However, discussions last year with producers and processors, including local agricultural extension workers, revealed that major hurdle for these young entrepreneurs was the process of obtaining food safety certification.

To grow their businesses, these entrepreneurs aim to sell their peanut butter to wholesalers who will be able to place their products into retail supermarkets. However, food safety certification has become a minimum requirement for wholesaling to supermarkets and other retail chains and is an unavoidable step for expanding into the channel. The challenge is that preparation for this certification requires internal plant maintenance, HACCP plans, lot control books, and various other types of record keeping that many of the entrepreneurs are not yet prepared for.

To help the micro-entrepreneurs get ready for food safety certification, we worked with local Kenyan counterparts, local agricultural extension agents, professional organizations, and Tom Mboya National University to conduct two intensive 3-day food safety seminars for the entrepreneurs in March and May.

The first session in March covered food safety basics and product standards for peanut butter, labeling and packaging, as well as GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice). This included guidance on choosing proper locations and premises for the processing, proper clothing while in the processing facilities, proper heating and cooling, the appropriate techniques and machinery for accurate weighing and measurement, as well as proper standards and techniques for cleaning. The participants could all practice their skills on university equipment.

The second session in May was more in-depth and practical, inviting a food safety certification organization to present on the next steps. The seminar focused on group work to review how to use a grain moisture meter, how to keep records and lot numbers, how to compile company rules and procedures, how to analyze risks in accordance with HACCP and create a HACCP plan for the company, as well as review the documents and procedures required to apply for food safety certification.

The participants in these workshops had all been nominated by the local agricultural extension staff as being among the best and brightest entrepreneurs in the region. Despite the tough 3-day course schedule, the peanut butter entrepreneurs all actively participated and had excellent, positive attitudes.

Under the slogan “Food Safety First, Money Later,” several of the participating processors have already begun preparing to apply for food safety certification this summer.

In future seminars, we plan to further address the issue of aflatoxin (toxic mold that can easily develop on some seeds and nuts), which is a major risk to peanuts, as well as business development topics such as ensuring a stable peanut supply and creating market development plans.