By Kastsiaryna Serada – Research Fellow and Policy Analyst at Tondo
The EU has adopted its “Farm to Fork” strategy, a corner stone of the European Green Deal.
The new strategy is aimed at building healthy and sustainable food supply chains that work for consumers, producers, climate and environment. Implementation of the Farm to Fork strategy will contribute to achieving a circular economy and reducing the environmental impact of the food processing and retail sectors by taking action on transport, storage, packaging and food waste both at retail and consumer levels, including through binding targets. The coronavirus provided no shortages of lessons and has shown how crucial a well-functioning food system is, and how important it is to restore the balance between human activity and nature. New European strategies towards green transition, including Farm to Fork seek to achieve a new balance of nature, food systems and biodiversity; and at the same time to increase the EU’s competitiveness and resilience. Agriculture needs to become a part of the climate solution and contribute to the EU climate objectives towards 2050.
The strategy seeks to enable Europeans get healthy, affordable and sustainable food and make healthy and sustainable choices. Sustainable food labelling framework that covers the nutritional, climate, environmental and social aspects of food products will be developed to these ends. The Commission will explore new ways to give consumers better information, including by digital means, on details such as where the food comes from, its nutritional value, and its environmental footprint. Imported food that does not comply with relevant EU environmental standards is not allowed on EU markets. Organic farming should constitute 25% of the total farming practices, that is a three-fold increase in comparison to now and the use of chemical pesticides, as well as of fertilisers, antibiotics to be reduced by 50% by 2030.
The strategy seeks to improve the position of farmers and their families in the food supply chains through facilitating higher returns achieved in the result of the transition to sustainable business models, appreciated and rewarded by the informed customers paying premium for healthier and more sustainable products as well as though a variety of the new business opportunities explored in the result of food innovation, new and more inclusive business models, developing a variety of the plant-based proteins and feed products, such as seafood based on algae. EUR 10 billion under Horizon Europe to be invested in R&D related to food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and environment.
The factor of the resilience of the food system has gained a momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic. Agriculture is a labour-intensive industry that has appeared to be weakly protected against the shocks related to the seasonal often migrant labour that enjoys very little social protections. In the situation of the containment and quarantine measures, limited mobility, closures of the regions, borders within the EU, thousands of farmers were negatively impacted by the shortages of the migrant labour. Mitigating such risks in the future together with considerations of workers’ social protection, working and housing conditions as well as protection of health and safety will play a major role in building fair, resilient, strong and sustainable food supply chains in the EU to ensure food security, social sustainability and resilience of agricultural production.
The role of the digital technologies will be indispensable to increase the efficiency and lower the costs of the agricultural production, provide the access to new global markets through facilitating global marketing and connecting better with consumers. The transition to sustainable food systems is also a ‘first mover’ economic opportunity for all actors in the EU food chain.
Sustainability should become a hallmark of the European agriculture and food and create a competitive advantage and open new business opportunities for European farmers. European food that is already a global standard for food that is safe, plentiful, nutritious and of high quality should also become a global standard for sustainability. The EU Commission will enhance international trade cooperation, allocate the financial and diplomatic resources to promote EU approach to building sustainable food systems globally and support the global transition to sustainable production and consumption of food, including through technology transfer.