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Food Product Environmental Footprint




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With climate change, population growth, biodiversity lost and customers now demanding greater transparency the food industry is under pressure to provide food transparency while also optimising their resources and minimising their environmental impact. They need to do all this while still maintaining economic competitiveness for sustainable growth.

In 2013 the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission launched a pilot phase to provide end customers with reliable and comparable environmental information.

The 2013-2016 Environmental Footprint (EF) pilot phase has three main objectives:

  • Test the process for developing product - and sector-specific rules
  • Test different approaches to verification
  • Test communication vehicles for communicating life cycle environmental performance to business partners, consumers and other company stakeholders.

This is tested by groups of organisations called Technical Secretariats, who volunteered to develop the rules for their product or sector.

Several food industry sectors launched a pilot phase to draft the Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR): beer, coffee, dairy, feed for food-producing animals, marine fish, meat (bovine, pigs, sheep), olive oil, packed water, pasta, pet food, and wine.

After three years of experimentation, consultation on draft final PEFCR for dairy and meat has opened and can be downloaded on the European Commission website.

Beyond the carbon footprint, those documents set up rules to assess both qualitatively and quantitatively significant environmental impact of dairy and meat industry, including water consumption/pollution and biodiversity.

The PEF programme is still in the early stages and it is a long way until every European grocery product is labelled with multiple environmental impacts, but this information could eventually become mandatory to access the market. NZ Food exporters should watch this space to keep on providing high value products that fulfill European market requirements and consumer demands. As such, some NZ organisations like Beef+Lamb NZ and Fonterra are on the boards of pilot projects Technical Secretariats.

If you want more information about the PEF programme and the Life Cycle methodology used to assess each product category, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to help you to benchmark your products alongside international competition.

 

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