Thought For Food
Last Tuesday I was in Brussels again, this time at a meeting of the ‘Food For Life’ initiative of the European Technology Platform (ETP) for the food sector. I was there as the representative on the Advisory Board of the UK’s Food Knowledge Transfer (KTP) network. The ETP is a collaboration between academic and industrial members from across Europe, with the ambition of “fostering a thriving European food ecosystem that builds on cultural diversity, with consumers and industry working in partnership”.
The final version of the strategy for how to transform the European food sector in an increasingly globalised, competitive market, was published last year. It has since been developed by the ETP into an action plan, which recognises the need for work in a number of areas – including new research in social and natural science – to benefit the general public. The purpose of this particular meeting was to review the draft action plan and assess how it matches the priorities of the individual members’ national organisations.
It is refreshing to see such a clear assertion that the agri-food system has to supply food that is not only safe and nutritious, but uses the world’s resources responsibly. Ultimately, the strategy aims to make healthy and sustainable food affordable to all, whilst also making it desirable and exciting. There are three strategic research and innovation objectives which can be broadly summarised as: increased involvement of consumers/citizens, personalised nutrition, and developing a flexible & sustainable food system.
These objectives are broken down into 17 topic areas and as part of my input to the meeting, I provided a top-line map of the topic areas onto the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) and SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) featured most strongly, followed by SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing).There is a long way still to go with the project, but there is much goodwill and an evident desire for cooperation among the pan-European membership. Meetings of the Advisory Board are likely to be held on a quarterly basis, so look out for more reports in this blog.