Sustainable EU food system – new initiative

Food systems cannot be resilient to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic if they are not sustainable. Today, these account for nearly one-third of global GHG emissions, consume large amounts of natural resources, result in biodiversity loss and negative health impacts (due to both under- and over-nutrition) and do not allow fair economic returns and livelihoods for all actors, in particular for primary producers.

A shift to sustainable food systems can bring environmental, health and social benefits, offer economic gains and ensure that the recovery from the crisis puts us onto a sustainable path.

In this context, the European Commission adopted in 2021 a comprehensive Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. It addresses comprehensively the challenges of sustainable food systems and recognises the inextricable links between healthy people, healthy societies and a healthy planet. The strategy is also central to the Commission’s contribution to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Putting food systems on a sustainable path also brings new opportunities for operators in the food value chain. New technologies and scientific discoveries, combined with increasing public awareness and demand for sustainable food, will benefit all stakeholders.

Through the Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission has announced a new initiative for a horizontal framework law, so as to accelerate and facilitate the transition and ensure that foods placed on the EU market become increasingly sustainable. This initiative will lay down general principles and objectives, together with the requirements and responsibilities of all actors in the EU food system. More specifically, it will set the rules on sustainability labelling of food products, minimum criteria for sustainable public procurement of food, governance and monitoring.

Such an EU level intervention aims to establish new foundations for future food policies by introducing sustainability objectives and principles on the basis of an integrated food system approach.

All relevant stakeholders, including but not limited to primary producers, traders and companies working with the food system, national authorities, civil society, and small and medium-sized enterprises are invited to partake in this online consultation and provide their input by July 21, 2022.