European food chain bands together to focus on sustainability challenges

Posted by James Ferre on 12th May 2009

Leading representatives from the European food chain and the European Commission have joined forces to launch the European Food Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Round Table.

“There is only one planet. We must use our resources wisely, also for the sake of consumers and businesses,” Jean Martin, President of the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the EU (CIAA), said at the launch. “It is imperative to develop sound methodologies to fight consumer confusion.”

The Secretary-General of Copa and Cogeca, which represents farmers, Pekka Pesonen, also stressed the importance of the task ahead. “A global holistic approach for sustainable consumption and production is necessary. European legislation alone cannot address this challenge,” he advised.

European Commission representatives, lead by Karl Falkenberg, Director General Environment and Loretta Dormal-Marino, Deputy Director General Agriculture & Rural Development, endorsed the initiative and reiterated that beyond economic aspects, food quality, safety and security together with the maintenance of high environmental standards form key aspects of sustainability. The crucial role of consumers was discussed with a need to “empower them with credible information”, a point highlighted by last year’s unnecessary rush in America on rice and wheat products after people heard of a shortage.

The Round Table will be co-chaired by the European Commission and representatives of the European food chain. Its objectives are to establish, by 2011, scientifically reliable and uniform environmental assessment methodologies for food and drink products and to identify suitable means of voluntary communication to consumers. It will also promote and report on continuous improvement initiatives along the whole food chain.

“In times of economic crisis, the food chain must not forget major long-term priorities such as the sustainability of its production chain,” Anne Santamaki, President of Euro Coop, concluded.