How can European farmers maximise the quality of our food and drinks?
The Green Paper on agricultural product quality adopted today by the European Commission aims to open a debate on how to help European farmers maximise the quality of the food and drink they produce and better respond to consumer demands. As globalisation brings about pressure from low cost products produced overseas and as consumer tastes evolve, Europe's most potent weapon is "quality".
The Green Paper looks at the range of standards, quality and certification programmes and labelling schemes currently operating in the EU – including geographical indications, organic farming, and private and regional food quality certification schemes – and asks what can be done to exploit the strengths of EU farming and better inform consumers of the products on offer. With a view to developing regulatory measures to facilitate production and marketing of products with particular, the paper also seeks input on the development of existing EC quality schemes.
The Green Paper builds on the outcomes of the 2007 Food Quality Certification Conference which was based on the information gathered by the 2-year "Food Quality Schemes" pilot project undertaken by the JRC Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS).
The origin of the Food Quality Schemes project was the European Parliament's request to the European Commission to launch a pilot study on food quality assurance and certification schemes. This was entrusted to the Directorate General Agriculture and Rural Development who commissioned the JRC to carry out the study.
The final report of the project analyses the existing food quality schemes and identifies the different approaches that can be taken in the future to ensure that a greater share of agricultural production is covered, and that farmers producing to higher standards retained a fair share of the added value.