Freshfel Philippe Binard

Freshfel Europe's Philippe Binard

This week, over 200 representatives of the food industry and the public sector from across Europe gathered for the ESSA (European Sprouted Seeds Association) and Freshfel Europe’s Food Crisis Management Event to analyse previous crises and prepare the response for future hypothetical scenarios.

The organisers revealed that the long-term vision was to foster cooperation between stakeholders to better manage potential future crises in the sector, develop effective strategies and raise awareness of good practices in crisis management.

“The fresh produce sector strives for good practices in production and trade,” said Freshfel Europe general delegate Philippe Binard. “However, this is reliant on a high level of cooperation with authorities and other actors. Collectively we need to foster effective modes of collaboration to better manage potential future food crises.”

The meeting reviewed the management of previous food crises related to food hygiene and food fraud. Inspired by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the event also provided a discussion on the role of misinformation in the management of food crises.

“Transparency plays a big role in crisis management,” said Binard. “It is based on a long-term confidence between public and private stakeholders. During the crisis and recovery period, good and consistent communication is essential. All stakeholders involved in a crisis should set up communication tools among each other as well as to the public. European and national authorities play a big role in informing the public, as well as in restoring consumers’ confidence. Open collaboration is therefore a key element of successful crisis management and prevention.”

Eglė Baecke, ESSA’s secretary general, commented: “The fresh produce industry hopes that this event serves to further reinforce good cooperation between business operators and authorities on crisis management. Cooperation must be a continuous process and applied in practice, such as through crisis simulation exercises.”