The SPC round table was officially launched on 6 May, and aims to establish EU-wide environmental methodologies for food and drink products.
In its communication detailing its hopes and aims for the next six months, the Confederation of Food and Drink Industries of the EU said it is hoping the Swedish presidency will play a role in the discussions.
“CIAA invites the Swedish presidency to play an active role in stimulating the involvement of all member states in the round table’s activities with a view to promoting the development of uniform and scientifically sound assessment methodologies for food and drink products across the EU,” it said.
As for Sweden, it has already signalled that food and climate is one of two points topping its agriculture agenda for the next six months, along with sound animal husbandry and healthy animals.
A conference is planned for 23 and 24 November in Lund on Climate Smart Food, which will discuss ways to minimise the impact of the entire food chain on climate change – as well as for actors to share good practice.
Last month Sweden unveiled its first dietary guidelines informed by environmental concerns as well as consumer health. Amongst these, it suggested people reduce their meat consumption and where possible choose meat from grass-based, local or organic systems. It is currently seeking views from other member states on these guidelines.
Another conference, called Rural Areas Shaping the Future, will take place in Uppsala on 28 and 29 October to discuss sustainable development in the modern countryside. Also, in advance of the Copenhagen meeting on climate change in November, agriculture ministers will hold an informal meeting in September to discuss adaptation measures.
Speaking to FoodNavigator.com prior to the round table launch, CIAA’s environmental director Christopher Tamandl said that the food industry’s new round table will seek to unify all the green assessment methods now in use and under development, rather than developing yet another approach from scratch.
While a plethora of good methods already exist and more are in development, existing methods tend to take in part of the food chain in isolation. For instance, the UK’s Carbon Trust looks at cutting carbon emissions, but not at issues such as water use or biodiversity.
“We need to ensure they are all around the table,” Tamandl said.
The stakeholders plan to take stock of existing and emerging methodologies, identify any gaps in the lifecycle, and look at plugging them.
The first step will be to develop common methodologies to assess environmental impact of food products throughout the lifecycle. This is expected to be achieved by 2011.
Once that has been established, attention will be turned to communicating green products’ performance to consumers, and on continuously improving their impacts.