Sustainability in Agrofood

Agricultural and food systems are estimated to account for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than twice that of the transport sector (IPCC). In such a framework, many food production systems are no longer sustainable.

Without meaningful and systematic changes, the global food system will continue to worsen the environment, contributing to climate change, and can compromise the world’s capacity to produce food in the future, notably to feed an expected population of some nine billion by 2050. 

Although in recent decades many innovations and technological advances are emerging, this combination of drivers still poses novel and complex challenges for global agriculture and led to a widespread and increasing demand for new organizational frameworks and productive systems designed to ensure food and energy security in ways that are environmentally and socially sustainable.

At this regard, the European Union launched few years ago the Single Market for Green Products initiative. As part of this initiative, between 2014-2016 the European Commission has implemented 2 pilots waves to profile one analytical method for the evaluation of the environmental lifecycle performance of products, namely the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF).  This pilot, that has concerned a group of agrofood products, could set the environmental standards for the commercialized agrofood products in Europe.

Why is PEF important for the agrofood companies in the Mediterranean countries?

Because the PEF standards might became in the next few years the unique and recognized environmental certification for agrofood products in the European Union.

The Product Environmental Footprint could be a game-change factor for the Mediterranean economic system, where agrofood is the first economic pillar. Approaching as soon as possible the PEF-based environmental footprint standards is becoming a key competitive asset for companies and enterprises of any size.

Companies which want to be labelled as “sustainable in production” could be required to show the compliance with PEF standards. Additionally, those SMEs and micro-companies which cooperate with the large agrofood corporations – as part of their supply chain – shall be requested to be PEF-compliant.

Are the Mediterranean agrofood companies ready to revise their own processing phase and switch to greener standards in line with the next generation sustainability labels based on PEF?

In the PEFMED project, several stress tests are implemented over some key productive sectors (dairy, meat, olive oil, wine, feed, packaged water) to assess the posture of Mediterranean agrofood companies to the changes and push them towards ecoinnovative interventions.