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From Farm to Fork

Context, need for action and vision

From Farm to Fork - Context and Need for Action
Retail & Consumer Goods
Supply Chain Management

Part 1: Context, Need for Action and the Vision of a Sustainable Food System in the European Union (EU)

More sustainability in the EU food system

In the context of global crises and the associated legal measures as well as changing consumer needs, companies are faced with the challenge of operating more sustainably and creating greater product and process transparency. In the food sector in particular, there are many legal and consumer expectations that need to be met.

The Context - The European Green Deal as a Framework for the “From Farm to Fork” Strategy

The EU is undergoing a green transition. With the "European Green Deal from 2019, the 27 EU member states have set themselves the goal of becoming climate-neutral by 2050. Through various initiatives in the policy areas of climate, environment, energy, transport, industry, finance and agriculture, this overarching goal has an impact on many players in the economy, who must comply with various legal requirements in this context. The "From Farm to Fork" strategy is one of the core initiatives in the European Green Deal and was presented by the European Commission in May 2020. It focuses on the sustainable design of the current EU food system and covers the production, trade and consumption of food. The focus here is on sustainable food production, processing and distribution, sustainable food consumption and the prevention of food loss and waste.

Dimensions and Need for Action

Tiny_Farm to Fork_Picture Yaren with Copilot

Food is ubiquitous and therefore the food system has a major influence on the three sustainability dimensions of environment, society and economy.

Environment: Both the production and trade of food contribute significantly to air, soil and water pollution, account for a significant proportion of greenhouse gas emissions and have a negative impact on biodiversity. The Commission describes these systems as "one of the main drivers of climate change and environmental degradation" (Communication from the Commission on the Farm to Fork Strategy, p. 3) and sees an urgent need for action to reduce pesticides and antimicrobials, reduce the excessive use of fertilizers, intensify organic farming, improve animal welfare and halt biodiversity loss.

Society: "If Europeans followed the dietary recommendations, this would also significantly reduce the environmental footprint of food systems", (Commission Communication on the Farm to Fork Strategy, p. 4). In reality, dietary behavior in Europe does not comply with national dietary recommendations and thus promotes various diet-related diseases. These include increasing obesity, which now affects more than half of adults (Eurostat, Obesity rate according to Body Mass Index (BMI)). In addition to eating habits, food waste is another problem, as "around 20% of all food produced is thrown away" (Commission communication on the "Farm to Fork" strategy, p. 4). The food environment in which consumers interact with the food system also does not encourage consumers to buy healthy alternatives. Factors that influence consumption in this environment include food insecurity or the affordability and limited simplicity or convenience of healthy foods. The Commission sees a need for action to change consumption patterns, reduce food waste and create a conducive food environment.

Economy: From an economic perspective, the Commission attests that the transition to sustainable food systems offers "enormous economic opportunities" (Commission communication on the "Farm to Fork" strategy, p.3). The early transition to sustainability gives farmers, fishermen and other stakeholders pioneering advantages in the food chain over competitors outside the EU, which they can use to their advantage. In this context, the Commission needs to take action to enable or promote the transition to sustainable practices for stakeholders in order to create new business and economic opportunities for food entrepreneurs, which in turn could lead to an increase in revenue. On the other hand, there is a need for action to eliminate economic deficits, such as improving the remuneration of primary producers or reducing rising health costs due to the increase in diet-related diseases.

The Vision: The Ideal Sustainable Food System

The strategy aims to transition to a sustainable food system that ...

  • has a neutral or positive impact on the environment from production through transportation and distribution to marketing and consumption,
  • supports the mitigation of climate change and its impacts,
  • halts the loss of biodiversity,
  • promotes food safety and public health and ensures access to sufficient, safe, nutritious and sustainable food for all,
  • and preserves the affordability of food while enabling more equitable economic returns and promoting the competitiveness of the EU supply sector and fair trade.

The Commission specifies this overarching vision of a sustainable food system within the EU on the basis of six target dimensions to which various measures are assigned. Find out more in part 2 of the blog post.


For many companies in the food industry, the demand for greater sustainability means a continuous examination of their products, processes and partnerships. Going digital can help to improve the transparency of products and processes and identify optimization potential in production or supply chains, for example, with the help of traceability options. In addition, the data collected offers comprehensive reporting options that can be used and/or transmitted as required. As digitalization experts, we offer a broad portfolio of software solutions for every individual situation. Feel free to contact us!

Stage Blog From Farm to Fork

The EU aims to make food healthier and more sustainable for Europe. What are the most important measures in production and consumption?

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Communication from the Commission on the Farm to Fork Strategy, COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS of May 20, 2020 on "From farm to fork" - a strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system, retrieved 01.03.2024

European Commission, Farm to Fork strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system, Information page, last accessed 29.04.2024

Council of the European Union, "From the farm to the table", Information page, last accessed 29.04.2024

Written by

Tiny_Photo Yaren Keskin
Yaren Keskin
Expert on sustainability in retail and the consumer goods industry