PEFC and AB Group Packaging Host ‘Food from the Forests’ event at Packaging Innovations

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and AB Group Packaging recently co-hosted a ‘Food from the Forests’ event, to highlight the multiple uses of the world’s forests, with the emphasis being on the importance of forests as a source of food. The guest speaker at the event, timed to coincide with the Packaging Innovations Show at the Business Design Centre in Islington, was TV chef Valentine Warner.

Valentine Warner is a food writer and cook with a passion for nature, the seasons and working outdoors. In September 2008 he appeared on TV with his first hit series "What to Eat Now", where he sought out the best food and dishes that the four seasons have to offer. This was quickly followed up by a second series in 2009. Valentine has also recently fronted two series about "Ration Book Britain" on UKTV and has appeared on Alan Titchmarsh's ITV show Love Your Garden. He regularly writes columns for Countryfile and Delicious and has written for The Times, The Mail on Sunday, The Guardian, The Independent, Olive, Waitrose Kitchen and many more publications. In addition, Valentine has written several books including What to Eat Now, What to Eat Now - More Please and What to Eat Next.

The foods on the menu were sourced from forests around the world including Italy, Finland, Canada and Scotland. They included Honeydew honey; a type of honey made from honeydew excreted by plant sucking insects which live in the forest. Honeydew honey is sought after by connoisseurs from around the world for its strong flavour and health promoting properties.

Other offerings included Lingonberries from Finland; tart, red berries, smaller and juicier than cranberries, loved by Scandinavians and found in abundance throughout their forests and generally used to make Lignonberry jam or sorbet. Venison from the Lochluichart Estate, situated in Wester Ross, Scotland was also on the menu. The estate is around 30,000 acres in size and there are approximately 5,000 acres of woodland, containing mainly native species. The Estate’s interests are sheep farming, forestry, and hunting, and the deer culled on the Estate are wild, forming part of a sustainable harvest.

Guests also sampled porcini mushrooms, truffle oil and black truffles. These delicacies originated from broad-leaf forests in the Umbria region of central Italy. One of the most popular dishes of the evening featured Iberico ham from De La Foresta in the protected Mediterranean Dehesa and forests located in the Sierra Morena Mountains in Spain, a biosphere reserve found in Andalusia, which provides Iberico hams from pigs that forage in the PEFC-certified cork oak forests.

The evening aimed to highlight the many goods and services our forests provide us with such as fibre for paper and packaging, timber, fuel, employment, leisure opportunities, habitats for animals, insects and birds and of course food.

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) recently published a factsheet entitled Forests, Food Security and Nutrition in the context of a growing global population and rising demand for food. According to CIFOR, while agricultural expansion continues to be a major driver of deforestation, forests provide an important source of food and contribute to overall nutritional health.

The publication noted that while forests contribute only 0.6% of the global food supply, they provide important micronutrients, employment and income to purchase food for an estimated 54 million people, fuel wood and charcoal for cooking, and provide an invaluable safety net in times of food shortages.

AB Group Managing Director, Dermot Brady, whose company sponsored the reception, said that, “Our guests enjoyed a wide range of delicious foods that had been sourced from forests around the world. This demonstrates the importance of responsible forest management and we are proud to have partnered with the world’s largest forest certification programme on this event.”

AB Group Packaging is one of the UK & Ireland’s biggest manufacturers of flexible packaging, producing paper and polythene bags and food packaging products. AB Group can produce 100% recycled products, and is dual certified to both PEFC and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification standards.