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Plenary 2013

European Food SCP Round Table Plenary Meeting

20th November 2013, 10.00 to 17.30

Copa-Cogeca, Rue de Trèves 61, Brussels



The European Food SCP Round Table held its fourth annual Plenary meeting on 20 November 2013 to adopt and launch the ENVIFOOD Protocol. In addition, the Plenary meeting set the main objectives and deliverable for the period beyond 2013.

The meeting was well attended by many stakeholders, including representatives of nearly every stage of the food supply chain, Member State representatives, non-governmental organisations and the scientific/research community. It was co-chaired by Pekka Pesonen, Secretary-General at Copa-Cogeca and Herbert Aichinger Adviser to Director for Sustainable Resource Management, Industry and Air at the European Commission DG Environment. Recent developments of environmental sustainability in the food chain from different perspectives, such as national, industry, European and global, were presented.




David Pennington, Working Group 1 Co-Chair, Joint Research Centre, European Commission

David Pennington presented the results of the ENVIFOOD Protocol public consultation and pilot test. The Public consultation was open from November 2012 to March 2013 and there were 11 participants and 144 comments. The Pilot test was launched in March 2013 and lasted until the end of September 2013, with the participation of 19 companies/organisations/research institutes. David Pennington mentioned that, following the public consultation and the pilot test, all the necessary modifications were inserted in the Protocol.

Presentation made by David Pennington

David Pennington
Nicolas Martin, Working Group 1 Co-Chair, European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation

Nicolas Martin, as newly elected Working Group1 Co-chair, provided an overview of the ENVIFOOD Protocol, which was launched in the morning session of the Plenary meeting and represents a great achievement for the Round Table.

The Protocol, as Mr Martin mentioned, is a “scientifically reliable, practical and harmonized methodology for the environmental assessment of food and drink products”; an “intermediate step between ISO standards, the EU Environmental Footprint and product specific rules”. The structure of the Protocol comprises a more general introductory part, including the following sections: Scope, Normative reference and relationship with other methodologies, How to read the guide, Terms and definitions, and Principles. The second part represents a methodological framework, including sections like: Functional Unit, System boundaries, Data quality requirements and dealing with data gaps, Handling multi-functional processes, and Environmental and other impacts.

Presentation made by Nicolas Martin

Nicolas Martin
Pavel Misiga, Head of Unit “Eco-Innovation & Circular Economy”, DG Environment, European Commission

Pavel Misiga provided an overview of the upcoming Communication on Sustainable Food and the public consultation held on this question. There will be a strong focus on tackling food waste. Options under consideration include establishing a definition of food waste and food waste hierarchy, agreeing common methodologies for measuring food waste, better collection of food waste data, setting targets for separate collection of food waste and/or food waste prevention.

Mr Misiga also presented the EU Environmental Footprint pilot test. He stated that the best solution to address the issue of the environmental impact of products is to provide a common methodology, while taking into account existing ones, that Member States and the private sector can apply. This will also improve consumer understanding through better information provision. The pilots for the PEFCR first wave are already selected and the second call relating to food, feed and drink products will be launched in January 2014, with a view to finalising the pilots by the end of 2016.

Pavel Misiga
Joost de Jong, Strategic Adviser, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs

Joost de Jong presented the Sustainable Food Agenda 2013-2016 in the Netherlands. The main objectives of the policy are to increase confidence in food, to stimulate sustainable food production, to reduce food waste, to decouple economic growth from resource use, and food security. The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs along with the Sustainable Food Alliance have drawn up a Joint Food Sustainability agenda in order to flesh out the necessary comprehensive chain cooperation in order to increase sustainability further.

Presentation made by Joost de Jong

Joost de Jong
Florence Scarsi, Project Manager, French Ministry for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea

Florence Scarsi presented the latest developments in France regarding environmental sustainability in the food chain. After a quick recap of the French Scheme, Ms Scarsi introduced the latest technical developments as regards the French food and pet food repository, food data, and proposed indicators. The French government evaluation report on the pilot test has been sent to the French Assembly. It stipulates that the following conditions need to be fulfilled for this kind of environmental declaration to be successful:

  • Must have calculation tools, a harmonised methodology and a database
  • Must ensure reliability of the information provided
  • Must control costs (e.g. government-funded database)
  • Need harmonisation of formats
  • Need training and education of stakeholders and consumers
  • Should be voluntary and incremental and compatible with international trade rules and with EU level developments

Florence Scarsi mentioned that the French scheme was a success as 90% of participants finished the experiment and 75% would like to continue. Moreover, France welcomes the ENVIFOOD Protocol and the EU Environmental Footprint pilot test.

Presentation made by Florence Scarsi

Florence Scarsi
Frank Hayer, Scientific Officer, Swiss Federal Office for Environment

Frank Hayer provided an overview of the Swiss Green Economy Approach to enhance environmental sustainability in the food sector. The Swiss Approach is based on an Action Plan recently approved by the Swiss Federal Council, which was also given the mandate to revise the Environmental Protection Act in 2014. The Action Plan will be implemented in four areas: consumption and production, waste and raw materials, internal engagement, and measurement and information. A voluntary environmental footprinting and labelling measure will have priority. Policy makers will only propose mandatory measures if it is not effective. Voluntary recommendations for environmental information on products are expected early 2014. In this regard, there are already negotiated agreements with industry, which focus on products with a considerable impact on the environment. Mr Hayer also mentioned that the Swiss approach has the same goal and principles as the EU approach, but there are still some differences regarding the methodology. He underlined that Switzerland will participate in the EU Environmental Footprint pilot phase II.

Presentation made by Frank Hayer

Frank Hayer
Nick Major, Corporate Affairs Director, ForFarmers

Nick Major presented the feed and livestock industry’s perspective on environmental sustainability. After introducing the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation and the European Livestock and Meat Trading Union and their ‘credo’, Mr Major talked about the need to harmonise the measurement of environmental impacts. As feed production is a significant contributor to the environmental footprint of animal products, the methodology for feed should be harmonised across all animal products, while having a modular and supply chain approach.

Presentation made by Nick Major

Nick Major
Sandro Dernini, Ph.D, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation

Sandro Dernini presented the UN FAO’s perspective on food sustainability. The FAO/UNEP Sustainable Food Systems Programme (SFSP) aims to improve resource efficiency and reduce the pollution intensity of food systems, while addressing issues of food and nutrition security. Recent activities of SFSP include World Food Day and a Workshop on voluntary standards for sustainable food systems. There is also a campaign called Think.Eat.Save, and the UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Challenge. FAO is also developing guidelines for sustainable diets together with the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies. Mr Dernini mentioned some of FAO’s initiatives, such as Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems (SAFA), Save Food, Global Agenda of Action in support of sustainable livestock sector development, which all aim to further develop food sustainability.

Presentation made by Sandro Dernini

Sandro Dernini
Koen Boone, Director Europe, The Sustainability Consortium/LEI Wageningen UR

Koen Boone introduced the Sustainability Consortium (TSC), which is coordinated by universities in the US, Europe and China. TSC focuses on major consumer goods sectors, where it has identified over 500 unique improvement opportunities and 400 hotspots. Mr Boone emphasised that TSC is co-operating with other initiatives, such as the European Commission’s EU Environmental Footprint initiative, the Consumer Goods Forum and other sector, product or sustainability theme specific initiatives. TSC has been recognised as a World Changing Idea by Scientific American Magazine due to its comprehensive nature and cross-sector approach.

Presentation made by Koen Boone

Koen Boone
Pascal Gréverath, Steering Committee Co-chair, Nestlé, FoodDrinkEurope

Pascal Gréverath outlined the future of the Round Table, now that Phase I is completed with the launching of the ENVIFOOD Protocol. Mr Gréverath emphasised that the Round Table has always delivered on time, according to schedule. Working Group 1 has worked to establish a reliable and uniform environmental assessment methodology for food and drinks, which culminated with the launch of the ENVIFOOD Protocol. Working Group 2 made recommendations for communication tools in 2011 and Working Group 3 adopted the report on continuous environmental improvement measures in 2012.

Furthermore, the main deliverables of the Round Table beyond 2013 (Phase II) include promotion of the ENVIFOOD Protocol, further methodology revisions of the Protocol, guidelines for product category rules (PCR) development and verification, and also facilitating technical support on EU Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) development and validation in the context of the European Commission’s EU Environmental Footprint initiative. Mr Gréverath explained that the EU Environmental Footprint and the ENVIFOOD Protocol are aligned and have the same objectives, and that the Round Table will take part in the EU Environmental Footprint, having a seat in the Steering Committee and in the Technical Advisory Board.

Presentation made by Pascal Gréverath

Pascal Gréverath



The Co-Chairs congratulated the Food SCP Round Table members for adopting the ENVIFOOD Protocol. This is the first sectoral framework to assess the environmental impact of food and drinks. The Co-Chairs reiterated their support for future activities, such as facilitating technical support for the EU Environmental Footprint pilot test.