Farm to fork (F2F) strategy- goals and technology support

14 Sep, 2021
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The technology that tracks and traces food production

The EU is introducing a new agricultural strategy called “Farm to Fork” or F2F. In this post, we discuss what it is and how Authena technology can support it.

Farm to table definition

“Farm to table” refers to a food system or movement where food is sourced directly from local farmers and producers, and served at restaurants or sold at markets with minimal processing or intermediaries involved. The goal is to promote sustainability, support local economies, and provide fresher and healthier food options to consumers.

What is the “farm to fork” (F2F) concept?

The Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy is a part of a 10-year plan published by the European Commission to create a healthy, fair and environmentally-friendly food system in the EU. It’s the bloc’s first attempt at designing a food policy that tracks and traces food production all the way from source to consumption.

To make the policy work, all EU members will have to agree to follow its stipulations on the national level. Furthermore, implementing the plan will require international cooperation. The EU will require more robust trade policies to prevent external countries from making changes that might offset Europe’s ecological transition.

The goals of the farm to fork concept

The F2F concept has multiple goals designed to serve both consumers and the environment. The EU wants to address many food-related issues within a single framework.

The main objectives of the policy include:

  • Reducing food fraud in the supply chain (ensuring that consumers get the products that they pay for)
  • Cutting down on good loss and waste (to enable the EU to meet its sustainability goals)
  • Promoting the shift to healthy, local and more sustainable foods and reducing reliance on cheap staples that damage population health (such as refined sugars, flours and oils)
  • Improving food security and preventing product tampering
  • Reducing the environmental impact of food production to meet long-term climate goals

The EU says that in order to implement the F2F concept successfully, countries will need to innovate on multiple levels. They will need to invest in knowledge sharing, advisory services, innovation and basic research. Critically, they should work with industry partners who have the necessary expertise to bring their plans to fruition.

From farm to fork strategy has many potential benefits

Who benefits from the farm to fork concept?

The EU’s F2F plan potentially benefits everyone by improving food quality, environmental sustainability and land use. However, specific groups of people stand to benefit more than others.

Reductions in pesticide usage, for instance, may protect local farmers. Evidence suggests that over-exposure to certain types of hazardous pesticides can lead to respiratory and neurological diseases.

Companies in the supply chain also stand to benefit. The EU wants to improve food security by boosting the traceability of products as they make their way through the food chain. Consumers and agents in the supply chain will be able to directly interact with products to view their origin.

Moreover, the shift to healthy, organic meals may help to improve human health. Growing evidence suggests that plants require stress to generate a full complement of nutrients. So organic plants exposed to regular insects and wild plants may boost human nutrition.

Lastly, the F2F strategy will support local farmers and fishers in the EU food chain who are undergoing the transition to sustainable practices. Far from being a regulatory burden, it should ultimately create additional opportunities for their small businesses.

Currently, the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policies provide incomes to local EU farmers to support ecosystems and their livelihoods. Unfortunately, it is not yet clear precisely what steps farmers will need to take to benefit from the F2F strategy.

What does the farm to fork strategy mean for the future of food in Europe?Farm to fork means more sustainable production

To make F2F more concrete, the EU has put forward some targets that it hopes to meet as the plan unfolds. These include:

  • Transitioning 25 percent of all member state farms to organic by 2030
  • Reducing total EU sales of antibiotics for farmed animals and aquaculture by 50 percent
  • Cutting down on the use of chemical pesticides by half by 2030
  • Reducing soil nutrient losses by 50 percent by 2030 while ensuring no loss of soil fertility
  • Reducing the usage of chemical fertilisers by 20 percent by 2030

Thus, the F2F strategy aims to make food production more sustainable and reduce reliance on artificial means of increasing yields. High technology is not an explicit part of the plan, so it is not clear how updates on innovations will affect EU targets. It is likely that agriculture will require greater use of technology throughout the supply chain if it wants to meet these ambitious goals.

What are the five farm to table steps?

The F2F strategy will cover the five “farm to table steps”. Experts typically break these down into the following:

five farm to table steps

  1. Production: Production encompasses agricultural production of fresh fruit and vegetables, livestock and other food products. Typically, countries specialize in a particular type of production depending on local climate and altitude. In the EU, for instance, France, Italy and Spain produce a lot of grapes, then transformed into wine, while Hungary produces more meat and meat based products like sausages.
  2. Processing: Processing is the second of the five farm-to-table steps. It involves transforming fresh agricultural products into ingredients. For instance, processing can encompass turning raw peanuts into peanut butter.
  3. Distribution: Distribution is the process that links processors and producers to retailers. Logistics services provide specialist food transport options, such as refrigerated trucks, planes and boats, to deliver fresh food items to their target markets.
  4. Retail: The fourth step is retail. Here, sellers showcase products to consumers and provide them with easy access to food and payment methods.
  5. Consumers: The last stage is the consumer – the people who eventually consume the food. Consumers dictate the structure of the supply chain and the foods that retailers offer according to their tastes. If certain foods become more fashionable, they will become more available in stores over time.

Technological support of the farm to fork strategy

The five farm to table steps provide a neat way to describe the food distribution supply chain. However, if the EU’s F2F strategy is going to work, then it will be through the support of technology.

Authena provides an end-to-end platform that allows food production and distribution firms to achieve full traceability and true value chain transparency. Our technology framework uses blockchain to secure data and enables authentication/and real-time monitoring at any required unit level, facilitating audit verifications.

To achieve this high level of traceability we combine:

  • IoT devices (eliminating the suppliers’ manual data entry) to seal and track products’ location and environmental conditions in a more reliable way than QR codes (easy to clone).
  • A producer dashboard that can integrate data from different ERP systems
  • Mobile Apps powered by AI engines to eliminate the manual input

Through the generation of new data points, their safe tracking and a powerful visualization we enable companies to show in real time their sustainability efforts and leverage this as a premium value for their customers.
In addition to that, our technology reduces fraud and ensures that consumers get authentic, fresh and safe products from legitimate suppliers.

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