There is light at the end of the tunnel. Many of us are now either able to resume some sense of normality, with businesses opening and coronavirus lockdowns easing, or can see the possibility of doing so in the not-distant future. 

Those of us in the UK find ourselves positively overjoyed with our newly allowed freedom to visit the long-cherished cultural monuments that are synonymous with Britain: drive-in cinemas and safari parks. The food sector is similarly gearing up for an introduction to the 'new normal'. A 'new normal' that, for some countries, seems to involve ignoring the fundamental freedoms of speech they are founded on.

On the subject of the US, in this issue, we take a look at the potential for plant-based yoghurt in the country as we speak to The Collaborative's CEO about the challenges and opportunities ahead as the company moves into the market. We also take an in-depth look at hemp as an emerging ingredient, asking whether it has the potential to stake a claim in the dairy-free sector.

Covid-19 has highlighted the fragility of meat processing across the pond, as plants have shut down and the workforce has been reduced due to health concerns. We dig into the potential of automation and try to find out if it could be the solution.

The global pandemic has also had an effect on M&A activity.  We hear from the executive director at M&A corporate finance firm DC Advisory, who tells us what impact Covid-19 has had in packaged food and what could drive transactions in the next few quarters.

Furthermore, incredible pressure has been put on the food supply chain due to lockdowns, but experts are generally impressed with how it has coped with the system shock. We learn what improvements need to be made to maintain resilience, and why data is key,

Looking forward, as businesses open up to customers in the next few months, there is a revitalised concern over the safety and hygiene in food production. Could robotics and AI be the answer? We speak with the CEO of UK-based robotics startup Karakuri to find out.

Furthermore, across the globe, consumers have understandably shifted their outlook when it comes to food. We take a look at the long-term changes in consumers' opinions on food, and how businesses can benefit.

Continuing our coronavirus case study series, we speak to a tech-for-good firm about how it has been impacted, and in return how it has been forced to adapt.

Lastly, looking to the future, we speak with ValuSect, a newly launched consortium aiming to raise the profile of edible insects across north-west Europe.

Peter Nilson, editor

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