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  • Writer's pictureIMACE Brussels desk

Stakeholders’ perspectives on the farm to fork strategy

Updated: May 5, 2020

The consultation on the Farm to Fork Strategy closed on 20 March 2020. Over 650 inputs were submitted to the portal, with the contribution of all the key stakeholders in the agri-food supply chain: farmers, food business operators, retailers, consumers, as well as representatives from health and environmental organisations. Also IMACE contributed to the consultation.

In this news item we provide you some insights on what various stakeholders are calling for in the Farm to Fork Strategy.

Almost all stakeholders stress the need to avoid legislative overlaps and burdens, therefore the measures presented in the Farm to Fork Strategy need to align with existing and upcoming initiatives, such as the Common Agricultural Policy, the Beating Cancer Plan, the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Biodiversity Strategy.

When it comes to sustainable production, stakeholders addressed the following topic of interest to IMACE:

  • Sustainable sourcing. Environmental organisations stress the need to put in place measures that promote deforestation-free supply chains. However, some food sectors point out that effective measures need an involvement ‘at source’, including producing countries and engaging both private and public stakeholders.

  • Sustainable farming. Organic farming is an important point from farmers, who believe that the Strategy should setup measures to (financially) support the uptake of organic farming practices. The same point is taken up by the industry (Primary Food Processors) which suggests considering achievable targets based on the market’s needs.

On the side of sustainable consumption, stakeholders positioned themselves on the following points:

  • Dietary shift. Consumers, health and environmental organisations believe that the Farm to Fork Strategy should promote a dietary shift towards eating less salt, sugar and fat-rich foods, but also towards less but better consumption of meat, dairy and eggs. As a consequence, consumption of plant-based products is explicitly mentioned as a way to achieve healthier and more sustainable diets.

  • Some advanced also a proposal for the setup of EU-wide sustainable dietary guidelines, along the line of those already published by WHO and FAO. The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) went one step ahead proposing specific guidelines for vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian diets.

Food labelling. Being one of the cornerstones of the Strategy, labelling is mentioned by all stakeholders, with diverse opinions.

  • Front-of-pack and nutrient profiles. There is wide agreement on the need to establish a mandatory FOP and an EU-wide nutrient profiling system, science-based and easy to understand by consumers.

  • However, while consumers and cooperatives consider a color-coded scheme as the most fit for purpose, farmers believe it limits the assessment of agricultural products to certain nutrients and does not take into account their overall nutritional contribution to the diet.

In line with IMACE’s position, health organisations, farmers and some food sectors remark the need to align nutrient profiles to both national dietary guidelines and to nutrition and health claims.

  • Origin labelling. Origin labelling is considered as a top concern by consumers, while retailers see the fragmentation of policies around country of origin as a threat to the European Single Market. Consumers and cooperatives demand the extension of mandatory labelling for specific categories of products, including milk used in dairy products, while farmers propose a mandatory ‘place of farming’ origin labelling at EU level for fresh and processed foods. No specific mention is made for plant-based fats by any stakeholder, and overall there is agreement on the fact that the current EU COOL voluntary measures suffice.

  • Environmental labelling. There is wide agreement on the fact that consumers need to be informed about the environmental footprint of food products. The food industry (Food Drink Europe) and retailers would be ready to apply the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) methodology to assess the environmental impact of food products. The industry also supports the elaboration of a harmonised framework on standardised product environmental information.

  • Other labelling. FEDIOL proposes to reconsider whether existing labelling requirements are still fit for purpose, taking as an example the requirement for fully and partially hydrogenated labelling, which is redundant with the maximum levels of TFAs recently established. This point is obviously also shared by IMACE.

Stakeholders’ contributions will feed the Strategy, whose publication has been (tentatively) postponed to the end of April 2020. Due to the current pandemic crisis, other delays must not be excluded, as political groups, such as the EPP, are pressing to move the adoption of the Strategy to after the summer, to avoid putting additional burden on the agricultural sector.

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