EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy Focuses on Sustainability and Food Security

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
Farm to Fork Strategy

Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series

Policy name: European Green Deal: Farm to Fork Strategy

Overview: The European Union (EU) Parliament has approved a Farm to Fork Strategy that supports the European Green Deal and will encourage sustainable, healthy, and local food production.

Location: European Union

Population: 447 million (2020 data)

Food policy category: Sustainable agriculture, nutrition, food security

Program goals: To facilitate the EU’s transition to a sustainable food system that will lead to increased food security and a reduced impact on climate change. 

How it works: The European Green Deal provides a roadmap focusing on sustainability and a more resource-efficient economy that  Europe can follow to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The Farm to Fork Strategy supports the Green Deal by aiming to make the European food system more sustainable. More specifically, this strategy highlights the need for the food system to:

  • Help mitigate climate change,
  • Reverse the loss of biodiversity,
  • Ensure food security, nutrition and public health for all,
  • Preserve affordability of food while generating economic returns.

While specific guidelines and legislation have yet to be formulated and approved, the primary plans of the Farm to Fork Strategy are:

  • Ensuring sustainable food production, including a reduction in chemical pesticides and fertilizers, increased use of anaerobic digesters to produce biogas and reduce methane emissions, promotion of organic farming, introduction of sustainable and innovative livestock feed additives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from animal feed, stricter regulations to protect animal welfare, and promoting sustainable fish and seafood production.
  • Ensuring food security for all, particularly in times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, which will require the development of a contingency plan to ensure that an adequate food supply is available at all times. 
  • Stimulating sustainable food processing and food services practices, particularly in food production and marketing. The food production sector must work to reduce its energy consumption and carbon footprint, in addition to reformulating food products to align with guidelines for a healthy, sustainable diet. Advertising should not promote foods high in fat, sugar, or salt and instead focus on healthier products. 
  • Promoting healthy, sustainable diets, through standardized front-of-package nutrition labeling and the creation of a sustainable food labeling framework to highlight the environmental and social aspects of products. The Commission will also promote sustainable food procurement in institutional settings and use tax incentives to encourage healthful eating. 
  • Reducing food loss and waste at both the production and consumer levels. 

Progress to date: The European Commission first presented the European Green Deal on December 11, 2019. The Commission opened a public consultation on a sustainable food strategy to support the Green Deal in February and March of 2020, and the Farm to Fork Strategy was presented by the Commission in May 2020. Adoption of the Farm to Fork Strategy was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was approved by Parliament on October 19, 2021. 

Why it is important: The goal of the Farm to Fork Strategy is to improve the health of both people and the planet. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals were unemployed and could no longer afford sufficient, nutritious foods, while disruptions to food supplies and increased retail food prices only amplified the issue of food insecurity. Additionally, frequent natural disasters resulting from climate change are weakening food systems by destroying crops and reducing the health and nutrition of livestock. It has become clear that more needs to be done to support and strengthen our global food systems, especially to prepare for times of crisis.  

Food security is essential for physical and mental health. Without proper nutrition and an adequate food supply, the risk and prevalence of the following chronic conditions are increased:

  • In children: asthma, aggression, anxiety, depression, anemia.
  • In adults: depression, diabetes, hypertension, poor sleep.

In order to maintain an adequate food supply for all, now and in the future, it is important to use a strategy like Farm to Fork that focuses on sustainability and resource efficiency.    

Program/Policy initiated: The strategy was approved on October 19, 2021. 

Point of contact: 
Thomas Haahr, Press Officer, European Parliament
Phone: (+32) 2 28 42976 

Gediminas Vilkas, Press Officer, European Parliament
Phone: (+32) 2 28 33592

Similar practices: The farm-to-fork (or farm-to-table) movement has been in existence since the 1970s, with small-scale initiatives instituted by restaurants, organizations, and individuals to increase procurement and consumption of locally-grown, farm-fresh foods. The EU’s Farm-to-Fork Strategy, however, is the only model that brings this movement to the level of an entire continent.  

Evaluation: Evaluation has not yet been conducted. 

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