WP 5: Case studies

General Information

The chief objective of Work package 5 is to illustrate and validate sustainability metrics for assessing FNS in major current food supply chains: livestock and fish, and fruit and vegetables, as proof-of-principle. The case studies-proof of principle approach is in the centre of the project.

The Work package will identify a set of innovative sustainability pathways as a contribution to defining scenarios for modeling future FNS in two perspectives: 

  • for the livestock-fish supply chain  as producers perspective and
  • for the fruit-vegetable chain as consumers perspective.

Furthermore, the work package 5 assess the impacts of applying enhanced sustainability metrics at interlinked hierarchical levels of these innovative development pathways in the livestock-fish and fruit-vegetables supply chain using the SUSFANS toolbox (WP9).


Latest Publication

Deliverable 5.4: Sustainability impacts of potential innovations in the supply chain of livestock and fish, and fruit and vegetables, and sustainable future diets (Report on T5.4)

To assess different possible future directions for the EU food system, potential innovations were identified towards achieving sustainable healthy diets within the EU. The innovations focused on two cases, the ‘livestock and fish case’ and the ‘fruit and vegetable case’. For both supply chains there are concerns regarding the current European diet (excessive consumption of livestock and too low consumption of fruit, vegetables and seafood). For animal production, i.e. livestock and seafood, environmental concerns (land use, GHG emissions, fish stock depletion etc.) are particularly pressing. Based on the current production systems and stakeholder consultation, we assessed the following innovations: novel feeding strategies, including use of waste to increase circularity in livestock production, and the potential of non-conventional foods (e.g. insects), as the innovation pathway for animal-based production. For fisheries we assessed fishing sustainably as the future innovation. Innovations for ‘the fruit and vegetable case’ focussed on increasing people’s fruit and vegetable intake by stimulating a reduction of food waste. Our results demonstrate that livestock reared solely on biomass unsuited for human consumption could still provide a significant part of our daily protein need. Livestock feed is therefore largely decoupled from arable land reducing the pressure on arable land to produce food. Livestock fed with by-products, food waste and grass supplies 31 g of protein /(cap*d) (5 g from pork, 20 g from dairy, 6 g from dairy meat). An additional 1 g comes from fisheries and another 1 g from aquaculture (salmon) meat fed with slaughter waste and co-products from fisheries. This supply fulfils about 60% of our protein requirement. Requirements of omega-3 in the form of DHA and EPA are met by about 66% from salmon and captured fish. Collectively livestock and fish fulfil the full vitamin B12, which is only available in animal, fish products and some non-conventional foods. Calcium requirements are met by about 94%, iron by about 15%, zinc by about 61% and selenium by about 55%. The additional nutrients that we require can be met by consuming plant-based foods or non-conventional foods such as insects or algae. Our results showed that non-conventional foods contain the complete array of essential nutrients and may be better substitutes for animal-source foods than plant-source foods. Moreover, future foods are efficient use of limited land resources if substituted for animal-source foods, and if produced with renewable energy, they also offer benefits in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Fishing sustainably and directing more of the catches to food directly has the potential to almost double food production and the nutritional contribution from EU fisheries. Our results therefore showed that combining animal-source food from animals that are not fed with human food, with additional non-conventional foods and plant-source food offer great potential to reduce the environmental impact of our food system while safeguarding our nutrient requirement. The results from the fruit and vegetable case, furthermore, showed that reducing food waste indeed reduces the environmental impact while it simultaneously indirectly simulates people to increase their fruit and vegetable intake and therefore contributes as well to more healthy diets. Our assessed innovation packages – feeding animals with products we cannot or do not want to eat, fishing sustainably, replacing the consumption of ASF with non-conventional food and plant-based food, and reducing food waste (especially fruit and vegetables) – provides a pathway towards achieving sustainable healthy diets within the EU.

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Defining a land boundary for sustainable livestock consumption

The need for more sustainable production and consumption of animal source food (ASF) is central to the achievement of the sustainable development goals: within this context, wise use of land is a core challenge and concern. A key question in feeding the future world is: how much ASF should we eat? We demonstrate that livestock raised under the circular economy concept could provide a significant, nonnegligible part (9–23 g/per capita) of our daily protein needs (~50–60 g/per capita). This livestock then would not consume human‐edible biomass, such as grains, but mainly convert leftovers from arable land and grass resources into valuable food, implying that production of livestock feed is largely decoupled from arable land. The availability of these biomass streams for livestock then determines the boundaries for livestock production and consumption. Under this concept, the competition for land for feed or food would be minimized and compared to no ASF, including some ASF in the human diet could free up about one quarter of global arable land. Our results also demonstrate that restricted growth in consumption of ASF in Africa and Asia would be feasible under these boundary conditions, while reductions in the rest of the world would be necessary to meet land use sustainability criteria. Managing this expansion and contraction of future consumption of ASF is essential for achieving sustainable nutrition security.

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Deliverable 5.3: Innovation pathways towards more sustainable production and consumption in the fruit - vegetable supply chain and their uptake in the SUSFANS models

Fruit and vegetable consumption is below recommended levels and should increase to come closer to a more healthy and sustainable diet in Europe. The aim of this report is to identify innovation pathways in the fruit and vegetable chain from a consumer perspective. The deliverable shows the different elements of a consumer perspective, their relevance and above all the need to combine consumer, production and circular perspectives on innovation to support fruit and vegetables consumption. To understand or even stimulate consumption behaviour a wide array of drivers need to be taken into consideration, which relate to the individual (biological, demographics, psychological), the product, the interpersonal, physical environment and policy. These are represented in consumption-related innovations such as: targeting, motivating, contextual, communicating and acceptance of innovations; product related innovation such as: product, production, and package; and circular innovations (in particular around reducing food waste). This paper is meant to inspire, raise awareness, and continue the discussion on a strengthened consumer perspective in the innovation strategies, foresight and modelling work in SUSFANS.

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Deliverable 5.1: Baseline sustainability assessment of the current state of livestock/fish and fruit/vegetables supply chains

To assess different possible future directions for the EU food system, potential pathways based on a set of innovations need to be identified. The aim of WP5 is to define different pathways towards more sustainable and healthy diets within the EU, without negative implications in the rest of world. This first report of WP 5 makes the case for the two selected case studies based on the current situation, provides as first set of innovation pathways and explores the use of metrics in a spider diagram to assess sustainable FNS. The innovations focus on two cases, ‘livestock and fish case’ and ‘the fruit and vegetable case’. For both supply chains there are concerns regarding the current European diet (too high consumption of livestock and too limited consumption fruit, vegetables and seafood), whereas for livestock and fish production there are also pressing environmental concerns (land use, GHG emissions, fish stock depletion).

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