Sustainable Food Systems: Does the EU ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy have all the answers?

The EU food supply chain, from agriculture and food and drink manufacturers to food and drink retailers, employs 23 million people. As the sector strives to move towards more sustainable food systems and implementing the United Nations SDGs, it faces growing challenges such as climate change, resource depletion, and malnutrition, all affecting the sector and society alike.

Sustainable food systems can only be achieved through a holistic, fair, and coordinated approach. Food and drink manufacturers thus need to engage and co-operate with all actors throughout the food supply chain and beyond, at national, regional and global level to be able to effectively contribute to this transition.

On the one hand, food and drink manufacturers need to review their business models and strategies, alongside the whole agri-food chain, to ensure that sustainability becomes a strategic priority. They need to accelerate efforts towards greater sustainability building on achievements to date, both within or outside their operations. On the other hand, they have a role to play in encouraging and supporting healthier and more sustainable consumption patterns whilst continuing to meet consumer demands and societal expectations.

All this will only be possible if there are supportive market conditions, financial support and policy and regulatory frameworks in place to help overcome potential barriers and foster innovative actions.

EURACTIV organised this debate to discuss an effective transition towards more resilient and sustainable food systems in line with the SDGs and what the future links will be between food, people and the planet. Panel 1 addressed the production side; panel 2 addressed the consumption side.

Questions included:

  • How can cooperation between farmers and the food and drink industry help create more sustainable food systems? And how can the industry encourage and support more sustainable farming with a focus on climate change?
  • What role for sustainable global sourcing, including the responsible and efficient use of raw materials and a circular economy?
  • How can business generate inclusive and sustainable growth and support more sustainable trade?
  • Which R&I pathways can support the transition towards sustainable food systems?
  • How best to support healthier and more sustainable diets and lifestyles?
  • How can the Commission’s ‘European Green Deal’ and the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy help a faster transition towards sustainable food systems?

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