Key food industry participants on quest for sustainability

Posted by Isobel Drake on 2nd March 2009

Major stakeholders in the European food and drink supply chain have set up a roundtable to promote environmental sustainability.

The Roundtable will constitute a major food sector-wide contribution to the EU’s ambitions in the field of Sustainable Consumption and Production, bringing together farmers and their suppliers, agricultural traders, food and drink producers, packaging suppliers, recovery organisations and civil society representatives, and will be supported by the UN Environment Programme and the European Environment Agency.

The first priority of the “European Food SCP Roundtable” will be to facilitate agreement on uniform and scientifically reliable environmental assessment methodologies for food products. “European consumers increasingly want to be sure that the food they buy and consume is not only safe, healthy, nutritious and affordable, but that it also meets the highest levels of environmental sustainability,” Jean Martin, President of CIAA (Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the EU), noted.

“We want to put an end to consumers seeing inconsistent environmental information on products. Our new cooperation will bring together existing initiatives from across the food chain, promote their foundation on sound scientific evidence and translate into real progress in moving towards a coherent approach across the EU,” stressed, Pekka Pesonen, Secretary-General of Copa-Cogeca, which represents European farmers.

In addition to the major food chain organisations , the Roundtable looks to cooperate closely with all relevant European Commission services. It will be supported by the European Environment Agency and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), ensuring alignment with the European and global sustainable consumption and production agenda. Also, consumer organisations and retailers have been invited to participate.

“In gathering the expertise of the entire food value chain, the Roundtable will constitute a major sector-specific reference point also for the upcoming Retail Forum,” Senator Feargal Quinn, President of EuroCommerce, added. Exchange of information between the two initiatives will pool expertise, favour consistency and avoid duplication.

Parallel to environmental assessment methods, the Roundtable will examine key sustainability challenges along the food value chain (e.g. climate change, water conservation, resource efficiency and waste reduction) and develop adequate strategies to address them.

The Food SCP Roundtable will be formally launched in April 2009.