The EU has the ambition to be the first climate neutral continent by 2050, EU president Ursula von der Leyen and vice president Green Deal Commissioner Frans Timmermans declared in December 2019. This will happen, as the European Committee plans, "by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making the transition just and inclusive for all."

It's a huge ambition. As soon as it came out, it was criticised for not being very specific on the criteria and metrics. And thus, not being specific on the results the spending of €1 trillion of public money breeds on its way till 2050. Thursday May 20 a broad coalition of agritech companies said in a jojnt declaration they "cannot celebrate its anniversary, as the strategy still raises too many questions in the European farming and agri-food community. A year of intense debate has only increased the number of our concerns. Without a comprehensive impact assessment, we will not be celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Farm to Fork strategy."

Farm to Fork Strategy
Agriculture and Food are an integral part of the Green Deal. In a dedicated chapter called the 'Farm to Fork Strategy' , the goals for the food systems were announced. The Commission will act to:
  • reduce by 50% the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 2030

  • reduce by 50% the use of more hazardous pesticides by 2030

  • reduce nutrient losses by at least 50%, while ensuring no deterioration on soil fertility

  • reduce fertilizer use by at least 20% by 2030

Furthermore, the Commission will reduce by 50% the sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and in aquaculture by 2030. It will boost the development of EU organic farming area with the aim to achieve (25% of total farmland) under organic farming by 2030.

Sustainable standards
Sustainable practices – to comply to the Green Deal’s 'Farm to Fork Strategy' – need to be paid by the food chain as much as is possible. Anything that cannot be financed in that way through private labels, quality marks, or industry standards, must come from the government. This applies, for example, to ecosystem services that farmers can provide to improve biodiversity, soil, water, air, and landscape quality.

Join these speakers

AgriFoodNetworks’ writer Babatunde Olarewaju is a Nigerian food expert and agronomist. Olarewaju has over 6 years’ experience working on various projects in the field of amongst others community driven development and consulting, gender equity, farm assessment, and youth capacity building and development. He was a Licensed GlobalG.A.P. Farm Assurer, certified quality management system (QMS), and GlobalG.A.P. Risk Assessment on Social Practice (GRASP). Furthermore, Olarewaju is a trained ISO 22000 Lead Auditor (Food safety Management system) and currently work as a Lead Strategist with FutuX Agri-consult Ltd.

As an experienced Director of Quality Assurance, Bert Urlings (Vion Food Group) has a demonstrated history of working in the food production industry. He is skilled in Veterinary Medicine, Animal Welfare, BRC, Meat, and Food Processing. Urlings is actively involved in the development of global standards in food safety, product integrity and animal welfare. He is a member of the board of global standards and Nasdaq North listed company.

Lars de Keijser is Lead Sustainability Consultant at Mérieux NutriSciences, a consultancy firm on safeguarding operational reliability, business continuity, and company reputation. He is an experienced and results driven Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Supply Chain and Assurance professional. De Keijser is responsible for the development and roll out of Merieux's sustainability consulting proposition and related services portfolio.

What’s in store until summer?
For more information, go to the overview page.

1. Digitisation will disrupt the food system as we know it

In the opening chat of the series, moderator Tiffany Tsui chats with panelists Paul Buisman (Moba, egg packing machines), Kristian Möller (GlobalG.A.P.), Hans de Gier (SyncForce, data integration), and Dick Veerman (Foodlog) to discuss the challenges ahead in the world of digital food.

2. Bye manpower, hello machines and value

In the absence of a global authority that is aware of the powers unleashed by the digitisation of food, what 'no-body' can guard the interests of the global community?
Hans de Gier (SyncForce) explains - during the second chat - the Consumer Goods Forum's Data Ports project. The project's goal is to make the myriad of product standards interoperable by a common basic taxonomy and connecting simple identifiers. The good news: it is fully feasible, as Hans explains in great technical detail.

3. The True Code - a free global digital passport for every farmer and facility

Chat 3: in the near future, data will travel with products. Retailers and brands need fast, cheap, and reliable data. There are several platforms (blockchains, data lakes, ERP systems) that already contain supplier and product related-data. These platforms, however, are not interconnected. Data exchange is limited and complicated. Interconnectivity and the easy exchange of data cannot do without a reliable, yet simple identification of every individual company that has a role in the supply chain. This can be done by using a unique electronic passport connected to every individual facility that is an actor in the chain.

4. Blooming Africa - the transfer of practical know how, organising farmers, the AfCFTA free trade area and creating value with transparency

Tiffany Tsui discusses - during the fourth chat - with hands on expert Dutch strawberry grower and advisor Jan Robben, TRUE Code-developer Marjan de Bock-Smit, Victoria Madedor (African Farmers Stories), and Dr Ikechi Agbugba (Rivers State University, Nigeria) how recent border closures on the one hand and new trade opportunities on the other impact agriculture in Africa.

At 1:08:00 min. they were spontaneously joined by Memory Nyakwima Chakwita from Zimbabwe who showed the potential strawberry fields in which she would like to apply all that was discussed. It was a special moment in the informal part of the discussion, showing the potential of this way of connecting people, expertise and ideas.

5. How to unlock Africa’s agricultural potential?

In the fifth chat of the Digital Food series, Tiffany Tsui asked her panel of African experts about challenges to organize trust, capital and infrastructure for African smallholder entrepreneurs. Victoria Madedor (African Farmers Stories), Babatunde Olarewaju (Futux Agri Consult, Lagos, Nigeria), and Dr Ikechi Agbugba (Rivers State University, Nigeria) discussed the overcoming challenges to trade and export of crops. Marjan de Bock-Smit (founder ImpactBuying, former CEO SIM Supply) responds.

6. Carbon Credits: discovering the self-financing potential of African farmers

Carbon emissions are a growing concern for big companies. The digitisation of food will make their efforts - or lack of them - transparant to the consumer. Investors like BlackRock prefer the big brands to take responsibility. That's why carbon credits are coming of age in the trade of doing ethical business. Africa and its farmers will probably profit the most from carbon credits as can help them build on their own capital. Are carbon credits indeed the holy grail?

7. Building natural capital: metrics & transparant monitoring

Moderator Tiffany Tsui discussed with Anke Hamminga, Sustainability lead EU at Cargill how her company is working on a new methodology to clarify contradictory choices modern consumers and their suppliers make with the intention of doing the right thing. Cargill intends to stay neutral but wants to raise awareness amongst their clients and consumer about the consequences of so-called sustainable choices serving nature and opposing climate change.

8. Transparency by storytelling: commercial opportunities

Thanks to food digitisation, consumers, retailers, and food processors can make more informed choices. Wilbert Hilkens, CEO and founder of FoodInsights, and Stef Heutink from IVRM Reputation showed the audience how presenting stories can provide new commercial opportunities.

9. EU Green Deal: assessing & monitoring environmental impact

The European Union (EU) has the ambition to be the first climate neutral continent by 2050. As soon as the news was out, it was criticized for being unspecific on the criteria and metrics. Yet €1 trillion of public money will be spend from now till 2050. How to assess the results in terms of real environmental impact?

Petra Laux (acting Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) of Syngenta Group) and Krijn Poppe (Policy advisor, economist and retired Research Manager at Wageningen University Research), led by moderator Tiffany Tsui discussed the base on which the Green Deal has been formulated for agriculture and the required criteria and metrics to put the Green Deal meaningfully into practice.

The first Digital Food conference in it's pre-covid physical guise in Amsterdam, 2019.