Farm to Fork, a transformative agribusiness strategy?
The EU launched its eagerly awaited Farm to Fork Strategy document at the end of May and, if its objectives are achieved, it will have a hugely transformative effect on food and agriculture value chains in Europe.
The overriding aim is to achieve a more sustainable, decarbonised, and secure food and agriculture ecosystem and governments at the EU and member state level will have an important role in incentivising behaviours feeding those aims.
Stakeholders throughout the food and agribusiness supply chains are paying close attention to how they can not only play their part in contributing to a greener industry but also navigate and grow their businesses in response to the new paradigm.
Ambitious targets for agriculture in Europe
The strategy is part of the EU’s Green Deal which aims to make the continent carbon neutral by 2050. Agriculture in Europe accounts for 10 per cent of total carbon emissions (70% of that figure from the animal sector), with industry and transportation emissions taking up larger proportions of that total.
Among targets set out are a reduction by 50% of the use of chemical pesticides, a reduction of nutrient losses by at least 50%, and a reduction in fertiliser use by at least 20%, all by 2030. There is also provision for a reduction by 50% of the sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals by 2030.
Finally, they aim to have 25% of agricultural land under organic farming within the same timeframe.
Advisory services around best practices for yields and the whole area of sustainable farm techniques, reducing the use of products that increase emissions, are to grow more in importance as will the financial incentives aimed at driving the success of this new direction.
On the other side of the equation, increasingly discerning consumers with an awareness of the interrelationship between health, ecosystems, supply chains, consumption patterns and planetary boundaries are choosing products based on environmentally friendly, sustainable practices.
That societal trend has, until now, not been met with an incentivised sustainability response towards food and agriculture in Europe.
The new strategy, on paper, looks like it will unlock great potential, as the value consumers see in sustainable food products is completely realised
Financially rewarding sustainable food sector practices
The strategy to change agriculture in Europe is unambiguous in promising to reward all working within the food chain who embrace sustainable practices, enable transition for others and create additional opportunities for their businesses.
The EU wants to complement the bloc’s already strong reputation for safe, nutritious, and high-quality food by adding sustainability to its roster of trusted attributes.
Brussels policymakers see the commitment to sustainability as a ‘first mover’ opportunity for all actors in the food chain and ensure rewards are in place to stimulate that behaviour, through the CAP, public or private initiatives.
Among practices set for financial attention are precision agriculture, agro-ecology, organic farming carbon farming and agro-forestry.
There will be incentivisation for the most carbon-efficient methods of livestock production and further funding dedicated to research to increase the availability of alternative proteins.
Through regulatory and non-regulatory initiatives, the scale and concentration of food processors and retailers are to be harnessed towards a sustainable path, steering the food industry towards practices that make the healthy, sustainable choice an easy one for consumers.
Meanwhile, they will increase funding towards the promotion of sustainable produce in member state marketplaces. The Commission will propose mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling and launch initiatives to stimulate product reformulation, such as nutrient profiles to restrict the promotion of foods high in fat, sugars and salt.
Established consultancy dedicated to food and agribusiness
A key focus for Farrelly & Mitchell centres on Food Sustainability and ESG feasibility, auditing and food security, perfectly aligned to match developments such as the farm to fork strategy at EU level.
We have effectively been navigating clients through sustainability and environment-oriented missions throughout our existence.
Our intimate knowledge of the food and agribusiness value chain and our global reach means we are well placed to work with clients engaging in this new era.
Among relevant track record of projects are a market analysis & feasibility study for a biowaste recycling project for a client in late 2019.
This process involved market demand, technical and supply chain and opportunity assessments, management analysis, performance metrics and benchmarking, comprehensive financial analysis including scenario and risk analysis.
We have also provided comprehensive consultation to a client aiming to provide the highest standard in sustainable food ecosystems, delivering our expertise in the design of a water and food innovation hub and advanced greenhouse and field systems developing a large variety of fruit and vegetables using the most suitable hydroponics, irrigation and other cutting edge AgTech technologies.
This project also entailed consulting on optimum management practices around pruning, harvesting, soil improvement, pest management, greenhouse cooling and crop rotation.
While the drive for carbon neutrality provides the impetus for much of Farm to Fork, sustainability of water resources has been the primary imperative for agribusiness and food policy changes in other parts of the world.
Over the past number of years Farrelly & Mitchell has worked with several large-scale arable farmers, relying on non-replenishing groundwater sources, to reposition their businesses in response to changing water usage policy.
Important policy documents such as the European Union’s recently announced Farm to Fork Strategy will have a transformative effect on food and agriculture value chains.
Farrelly & Mitchell have, by virtue of dedicated food and agribusiness sector specialisation, and experience in the area of sustainability, the capacity to help clients understand, respond, and grow their businesses, as the sector evolves.
As Farrelly and Mitchell's co-founder and Managing Director, Malachy provides unmatched expertise. Working alongside CEO's, executives, and leaders from public and private sectors, Malachy empowers agribusinesses to fully achieve their potential.
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