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Report2021Open access

Farm to Fork Strategy – a consumer perspective

Fernqvist, Fredrik


The Farm to Fork Strategy has two opposite goals: One is increasing the farmer incomes and the other is to make affordable, healthy and sustainable food available for all. It is necessary to take into consideration the complex dynamics of the whole supply chain food to be able to put forward solutions addressing this.

Several challenges are discussed in this report, as well as potential conflicts of interest. There are many possible synergies in illuminating sustainability issues from several perspectives. From a research perspective this would mean working more in interdisciplinary teams. It would likely need to include participatory approaches together with actors from the whole supply/value chain, including the involvement of consumers. Not only to be able to solve practical problems, but also increase the flow of knowledge and information in any direction. It will require a variety of research methods from several disciplines, bot qualitative and quantitative approaches. Having a food system perspective could also help in working with the challenges, but we also must also realise that there are always resource constraints and we cannot do all at once.

The Farm to Fork Strategy is somehow limited with what it addresses. It addresses issues related to sustainability, both on the production and consumption side. It addresses the need for action. But the body of proposed actions is actually rather meagre (well, if it is result of negotiation between different parties, that is perhaps not so surprising). The focus is on a need to produce food more sustainable, introduce new technologies, to promote sustainable food towards the consumer and “foster” it to make the right choices. Price of food should also be just about right for both farmers and consumers. Issues as health, food waste, environmental impact, and so on, are lifted. It is somehow bothering that consumer behaviour, and how to influence the consumers’ behaviours, is simplified in this context. This also regards the lack of addressing the behaviours among other actors in the food value chain.

There are many questions that arise: How should farmers, managers and businesses improve their processes to better work with the sustainability challenges? How can they increase the degree of innovation? How can they meet changing market demands and adopt to a changing market? How can and should they act in a dynamic food system? How will knowledge and technology spread in a more efficient way than today? How the supporting systems (for example innovation and knowledge systems) support change towards increased sustainability? How can we change current norms and conventions that possibly put restraints on the sustainability transition? Many more gaps may be found, and just the occurrence of all questions show how complex it is. The strategy mainly focuses on the questions of what and why, but less on how to do it. But with the new Horizon Europe programme, many opportunities arise to research on it and increase our knowledge on how.

Solutions for a more sustainable food system must most likely be developed through collaboration, including actors from the whole value chain, include consumers in the process, taking knowledge from multiple disciplines in science and make a joint effort to try to solve a very complex problem. The process of ‘muddling through’, as described by Lindblom (1959), perhaps best describes the work ahead.

Published in

SLU Future Food Reports
2021, number: 16
ISBN: 978-91-576-9880-3, eISBN: 978-91-576-9879-7
Publisher: SLU Future food, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    Associated SLU-program

    SLU Future Food

    Sustainable Development Goals

    End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
    Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
    Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Business Administration
    Food Science

    Permanent link to this page (URI)