EUROPE AND FOOD: Ensuring environmental, health and social benefits for the global transition

On 5th  May, EACA participated in the webinar “EUROPE AND FOOD: Ensuring environmental, health and social benefits for the global transition” organised by the Barilla Foundation. The ‘EUROPE AND FOOD‘ report, presented during the webinar,  presents an assessment of food systems in the European Union (EU) regarding nutritional challenges, agriculture, food losses and food waste. The analysis covers the EU Member States and the United Kingdom. The study generated eight main findings:

  1. All EU countries have high levels of overweight and obesity among adults and children and insufficient physical activity levels. These trends are worrying because a high body mass index and a lack of physical activity are risk factors for developing non-communicable diseases (NCD).
  2. In all EU countries, guidelines for a healthy and sustainable diet have been published. However, these guidelines have not yet been updated in all the different European countries.
  3. Within the EU, nutrition seems to be in the transition towards a common westernisation of diets. Westernised diets are characterised by high protein content, saturated fat, refined cereals, sugar, alcohol, salt, and fructose syrup.
  4. Agriculture is responsible for about 10% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the EU. Livestock farming contributes 61% of total GHG emissions from EU agriculture, while crops produce 39%.
  5. Agricultural soil degradation is a crucial issue, especially in southern European countries, characterised by a soil carbon content below the critical threshold of 1.5 %.
  6. The participation of young people (under 35 years) in agriculture is generally low in the countries analysed, representing 5% of the young population.
  7. Every year more than 20% of the food produced in the EU is wasted.
  8. Policy responses to food loss and waste are primarily at the regional and national level.

At the end of the webinar, it was stressed that the EU is at a turning point in reversing current nutritional trends, reducing pressure on the environment, and ensuring an equitable transition of food systems.