Techniques for improving EU food systems were on the agenda of the second meeting of the Forum on Best Practices in the Agri-Food Supply Chain on 10 November in Brussels. 71 stakeholders involved with EU agri-food value chains took part in the Forum, which was designed to help enhance cooperation between actors in the value chain and to increase market transparency.
The European Commission’s DG Agriculture (DG AGRI) launched the Forum on Best Practices in the Agri-Food Supply Chain in 2021 as one of the actions envisaged under the Farm to Fork Strategy. This year’s event built on outcomes of the 1st session of the Forum. It allowed participants to exchange on opportunities to help the agri-food sector gain competitive advantages from collective methods that reinforce the sector’s resilience and adaptability, such as through sustainability standards. This year’s Forum also focussed on best practices in the organic sector and experiences in terms of improving market information.
A comprehensive agenda allowed Forum delegates to discuss opportunities and challenges involved with the transition to a sustainable food system. The perspectives of farmers, producer organisations, retailers and other stakeholders were shared and helped provide an understanding as to how to achieve common positions among different partners along the value chain. Member State examples of cooperation models improving sustainability in the agri-food supply chain provided inspiration, as did findings emerging from the ENRD Thematic Group on Sustainability Agreements.
Work being done by the EU CAP Network’s Thematic Group on Strengthening the position of farmers in the Organic Food Supply Chain was also showcased during Forum time devoted to the EU Organic Action Plan’s implementation. Here, delegates heard about successful approaches to boost producer positions in organic value chains. Practical lessons concerning cooperation between retailers and farmers were welcomed and described as being useful in terms of their potential contributions to help enhance the position of farmers in the organic supply chain.
The importance of networking EU knowhow to strengthen the transparency of agricultural and food markets and to facilitate well-functioning agricultural and food supply chain was recognised. A special Forum session promoted better informed choices for agri-food firms and public authorities by improving understanding about market developments. Private and public sector representatives recognised that, although market information is available for developments in agricultural production (prices, volumes of production, stocks, etc.), less market information exists about other key stages in the agri-food supply chain, such as those that operate between farmers and consumers, at the food processing and the retail level. This can put farmers at a disadvantage in the market. The benefits to be gained from boosting trust between partners along the value chain by opening more level playing fields will continue to be a mutual goal.
Forum conclusions underlined how important it is for all stakeholders to work together to help each other face the current crises affecting EU agri-food systems. CAP Strategic Plans provide useful implementation vehicles to help Member States maintain momentum on sustainability and related resilience in the context of the inclusive transformation of EU agri-food systems.
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