5 step plan to achieve a sustainable and resilient food future

Published: 26/06/2023

Europe’s food and drink manufacturers help to feed Europe, drive the EU economy and underpin Europe’s food culture.

  • 294,000 manufacturers: The EU hosts 294,000 food and drink companies, of which 99% are SMEs
  • 99% small enterprise: 233,000 food and drink companies employ fewer than 9 people
  • 4.6 million jobs: The sector provides 4.6 million jobs, paying €110 billion in wages
  • #1 exporter: The EU is the world’s #1 food exporter with €156 billion in exports
  • €1.9 billion on innovation: €1.9bn is spent on research and innovation by just 11 EU companies  

Turn over for our 5 step plan to ensure a sustainable and resilient food future.

5 step plan to achieve a sustainable and resilient food future

Policymakers have a key role to help food and drink manufacturers to be more sustainable, to feed people with quality and affordable products, and to improve Europe’s global competitiveness.

To succeed, there is an urgent need for policymakers to recognise the agri-food sector as essential and to develop a comprehensive EU Food Investment and Resilience Plan focused on addressing 5 core areas:   

  • Stimulate investment: There is a significant financing gap to meet the EU’s sustainability ambitions. For example, an estimated €8 billion a year is needed to help farmers transition to more sustainable agriculture; additional investment is needed into renewable energy infrastructure; at least €6.7 billion is needed to meet Europe’s plastic recycling targets; and agri-food businesses face a finance gap of at least €12.5 billion in unmet loan demands.
  • Support innovation: An innovation-friendly, science-based and predictable policy environment is needed to unlock business investment into sustainable products and novel foods; to give faster access to cutting edge technology such as chemical recycling, new genomic techniques and digital tools; and to avoid a brain- and finance-drain out of Europe.      
  • Boost trade and secure supply: An ambitious EU trade agenda, market access strategy and EU promotion policy are needed to boost global competitiveness and sustainable growth. In addition, policymakers should work with stakeholders to map global supply chain vulnerabilities and develop measures to maintain food and drink supplies in times of crisis.
  • Build better regulation: For sustainable businesses to thrive, all EU policy should be built on firm principles. For example, policy should protect and enhance the Single Market; new laws should be science-based and subject to impact assessments to avoid unintended consequences; and policy discussions must consider specific needs of SMEs which make up 99% of the food and drink manufacturing sector.     
  • Improve governance and coordination: To recognise the strategic importance of Europe’s food sector and to avoid contradictory EU policy proposals, better governance and coordination is required from the EU institutions. For example, a dedicated Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for Food to help avoid trade-offs on food safety, environmental goals, food security and economic sustainability.

In addition to these 5 steps, FoodDrinkEurope is fully committed to playing its own proactive role towards a better food future with its Action Plan for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems which lists out ambitious targets and activities to meet our common goals.