The global demand for food will increase in the future. By 2050, two billion more people will need to be fed on Earth. But is it feasible without exceeding the planet’s limits? The environmental pressure posed by our food system is already tremendous and should not be underestimated.
Agriculture is among the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions while being at the same time heavily impacted by the effects of climate change. Farming is also the largest user of our precious water resources while being a major polluter that contributes to accelerating the loss of biodiversity.
Meanwhile, European consumers have become more and more demanding with the quality of the food they eat, as they should be. They want healthier food and expect greater transparency and traceability. In this regard, better labelling regarding both health and environmental impacts of food products will also play an important role in promoting more informed consumer choice.
Figures show that the global organic food and drink market has grown rapidly over the last years and will continue to grow in the next decade . European consumers have become more environmentally aware leading to increase significantly the sales of organic food products.
Moreover, Europe is torn between the need of maintaining food at an affordable price for EU consumers while meeting the highest environmental and food safety standards without hindering the competitiveness of European farmers and the food industry… An extremely sensitive and delicate task that will require a balanced and carefully measured approach.
While a radical transformation of our food system is needed to make our society more sustainable and resilient, one should not overlook the strong and complex social, economic and ecological implications. Can the EU overcome such a big challenge? Will EU policymakers manage to solve Europe’s food dilemma?
Last May, the European Commission decided to tackle this huge challenge with its Farm-to-Fork Strategy and address the weaknesses of our food system to sustainably feed 450 million European citizens and preserve our environment from potential harmful effects.
Breaking down silos by adopting a holistic approach, the new cross-cutting strategy outlines the main policy orientations to reduce the environmental footprint of our food while encouraging healthier diets. Thus, the Farm-to-Fork strategy is not just about agriculture, it is also about climate, environment, health, digital, competitiveness, and jobs.
Increasing food productivity in a sustainable way will not be enough to meet the growing food demand. The EU will also need to change from linear food consumption to a more circular economy. From a European perspective, this means reshaping the policy framework regulating food chains, while from a more local and individual perspective, this means changing agricultural practices, adapting the food industry, and switching our consumption habits.
The EU will need to redesign its entire food system, literally from farm to fork, to make it future-proof. Driving the necessary policy change, supporting research and innovation, investing in new technologies, encouraging sustainable farming practices which do not necessarily involve massive use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, will all be critical to achieve a competitive, sustainable, and resilient food system in Europe.
The reform of EU agriculture and fisheries policies offers great opportunities to develop the needed resilience and sustainability. Some trade-offs will most likely be necessary and these should be carefully assessed to avoid threatening Europe’s food security. For sure, tough political negotiations lie ahead of this strategy but Europe’s consensual spirit will, as always, be the key to unlock positive outcomes for the greater interest.
Laurent Ulmann &
Cyrille Mai Thanh
- The food chain: paving the way to formulating a more sustainable, healthy and quality food policy
, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
- Towards a sustainable and resilient food system in Europe – the key role of the Common Agricultural Policy
, Commissioner for Agriculture
- The future Common Agricultural Policy: How to combine food security with strong environmental protection and climate change mitigation
, German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture
- Shaping a new rural vision for Europe
, MEP (Renew Europe Group- Chair)
- Ensuring sustainable, safe, affordable and quality food in Europe
, MEP (EPP Group), Chair of Committee of Agriculture and Rural Areas, European Parliament
- Farm-to-Fork beyond bold claims – the strategy must deliver for the planet, consumers and farmers alike
, MEP (Renew Europe Group), Member of the AGRI Committee- Rapporteur of CAP
- The role of farmers and their cooperation with other food chain actors in delivering on Farm to Fork sustainability objectives
, Copa President
- Transition to sustainable food systems
, Trade and Agriculture, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
- Covid-19 shows an industry up for the farm to fork challenge
, FoodDrinkEurope Director General
- Yes! The relocalisation of food supply chains can lead to food security in the European Union and to a healthier planet
, MEP (Greens Group), Member AGRI committee
- Support and maintain agricultural activity, essential to the food autonomy of our continent
, MEP (EPP Group), Member of the AGRI Committee
- The huge challenges of ‘Fourche à la Fourchette’
, MEP (S&D Group), Member of the AGRI Committee
- Restoring biodiversity to its natural place
, EU Policy Director, European Environmental Bureau
- Farmers and the “Farm to Fork” Strategy
, MEP (Renew Europe Group), Member of the AGRI Committee
- Thinking Europe again, thinking rural, thinking human
, MEP (EPP Group), Member of the REGI Committee
- What type of logistics is needed to have fresh products and development on a metropolitan, regional and European scale?
, Director General, Lille Metropole (MEL)
, General Manager EURALIMENTAIRE
, Innovation manager EURALIMENTAIRE
- How to guarantee food security and sovereignty in Europe by reducing the use of pesticides
, MEP (Renew Europe Group) Member of the AGRI Committee
- A coherent European Green Deal for the next generations
, Head Public Affairs, Science and Sustainability for EMEA,Bayer AG CropScience Divison
- From River 2 Farm 2 Fork, and back
, EurEau Secretary General
- Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture sectors to make the food system resilient
, MEP (Renew Europe Group), Chair of the PECH committee
- Redesigning Our Food System To Make It Future-Proof
, Sustainable Development & Public Affairs Director – Veolia
- Investing in food system resilience
, Research Analyst, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
- Farm to Fork Strategy: an opportunity to rethink the role of packaging in the transition towards sustainable food systems
, CEO of CITEO
- BBI JU – launching the circular bio-basedeconomy in Europe
, Executive Director of Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU)
- What measures should be taken in terms of innovation, in order to achieve the F2F goals?
, MEP (S&D Group) Member of the AGRI Committee
- Ensuring Product Safety and Physical Traceability Is Crucial
, CEO of ATT
- How to make food trade work for consumers and the planet
, BEUC Director General
- PLANETARY DIETS: the Power is on our plates, and on our food policies!
, Global Food Lead Scientist for WWF
, Senior Policy Officer, Agriculture and Food, WWF-European Policy Office
- Farm to Fork and the urgent need for a food transformation
, Animal Protection DenmarkBoard representative, Eurogroup for Animals (Animal Welfare association)