Freshfel has reacted to a growing need for a standardised environmental footprint methodology for the fresh produce sector
European fresh produce association Freshfel Europe and its members have launched a new sustainable development project for the fresh produce supply chain called the Freshfel Environmental Footprint Initiative.
The association noted that in light of upcoming EU legislation requiring environmental footprint accountability, as well as increasing demand along the chain for product sustainability data for supply chain actors and customers alike, there was a growing need for a standardised environmental footprint methodology for the fresh produce sector.
“Freshfel Europe and its members are embarking on the Environmental Footprint Initiative in a collaborative manner to develop a fresh fruit and vegetable environmental footprint methodology and digital tool that the whole sector may benefit from to enhance the industry’s sustainability and maintain its competitiveness,” Freshfel outlined.
Freshfel Europe members participating in the Initiative include Ailimpo, ANPP, Apeel Sciences, Assomela, Bama Gruppen, Bayer, BVEO, ColeACP, Dole, Greenyard, Fresh Produce Centre, IG International, Interfel and VBT.
On the 14 April 2022 Freshfel Europe along with participating members launched the Freshfel Environmental Footprint Initiative with the first steering committee meeting of the Initiative.
Within the association, Freshfel said its members had been exchanging on environmental footprint and life cycle assessment issues regarding both supply chain and legislative-driven sustainability demands.
“The launch of the Freshfel Environmental Footprint Initiative with leading members from the association marks a new level of cooperation on this complex and technical subject within the fresh produce sector,” Freshfel continued. “With participating members from right across the supply chain from Europe and beyond, the Initiative will reflect the needs of the entire supply chain from producers to consumers.”
The aim of the Freshfel Environmental Footprint Initiative is to develop an objective, standardised environmental footprint methodology, database and digital tool for the fresh produce sector that is broadly accepted by the industry, stakeholders as well as consumers.
Until now, efforts within the sector to address product sustainability through environmental footprint have been highly fragmented.
Over the past year Freshfel Europe’s Working Group on Environmental Footprint has investigated individual efforts throughout the sector and further afield to best understand the sector landscape and where gaps in environmental footprint knowledge and tools lie.
This has culminated in the launch of the Initiative with a group of leading sector members to develop a standardised environmental footprint methodology and digital tool from which the sector at large may benefit.
The Initiative will align with the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) methodology as recommended by the EU.
The PEF methodology is likely to be employed by the European Commission in upcoming legislation impacting the fresh produce sector on substantiating green claims and a harmonised EU sustainability labelling framework for food, among others.
Category rules specific to the fruit and vegetables sector will be developed ensuring comparable results of PEF-calculations.
“Freshfel Europe with its extensive membership spanning the entire supply chain from producers to retailers is best placed to act as the platform for the Initiative’s work,” said Freshfel Europe director sustainability and health Nicola Pisano.
“The association is facilitating collaboration between 14 of its leading members to develop an objective and standardised environmental footprint methodology and accompanying digital tool for the fresh produce sector at large,” she continued.
“More than ever before both the methodology and digital are much needed by the fresh fruit and vegetable sector,” Pisano added. “There is increasing legislative, B2B and B2C demand for transparent and highly accurate product sustainability data and the sector must not be left behind in order to maintain market competitiveness in the coming years.”
The Freshfel Environmental Footprint Initiative is open to all Freshfel Europe members, with Freshfel Europe itself acting as sector representative.
Additionally, the Initiative is looking at further collaboration on the methodology, database and digital tool with other partners from the sector and agri-food industry.
New level of cooperation
In confirming its participation as one of Freshfel’s members, Dole said the Initiative marked a new level of cooperation on what was “a complex and technical subject” within the fresh produce sector.
“Our participation in this timely and worthwhile project reflects our core values and our preferred approach to promoting sustainability across the fresh produce sector,” explained Vincent Dolan, vice-president of sustainability at Dole EMEA.
“Specifically, it illustrates our commitment to the adherence to best sustainable practices throughout our operations, the importance of the promotion of transparency across the supply chain and the value we place on constructive engagement with fellow stakeholders.”