LOW INPUT FOR HIGH RETURNS
As recognised by the European Action Plan on Organic Food and Farming, organic food has experienced a boom over the last decade. But farmers and the whole supply chain still have some way to go. An Integrated Project under the European Commission's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) brings together European research on a wide range of low-input and organic farming research, from consumer perceptions of quality to individual activities on the farm. The overall objective of the project is to improve the quality and safety of organic and 'lowinput' food, whilst reducing its cost to the consumer. By involving the entire supply chain - from farmer to shopper - it hopes to align producers better with the expectations of their markets.
According to the FP6 project, 'Quality Low Input Food', the research challenges are: to improve the match between what producers aim at, and what consumers want; to increase cost efficiency (but not at the expense of quality, or food safety); and to draw all possible environmental and energy use benefits from organic and 'low-input' farming.
The project will address these issues by rigorously investigating consumer behaviour, testing the safety and quality of organic and low-input food, and by applying Europe's research expertise to improving the cost-effectiveness of low-input production. The project involves 31 partners - eight are European companies, including six SMEs, involved in the production, processing and quality assurance of organic food.
WHAT DO CONSUMERS WANT?
The first phase of the project is to ask consumers what they want from low-input foods, to measure what they actually buy, and to use the results in planning the research. To complement this, the project will compare the nutritional value and quality of low-input and conventional products. This will be followed by a carefully programmed series of studies, among them a comparison of the nutritional content of milk, and a test to demonstrate the effect of fungicide residues on animal fertility. The risk of pathogens reaching food from animal manure fertilisers, and of fungal toxins on organic grain will be quantified, and solutions sought. The research will help identify points in the low-input food chain where such hazards occur, and the new control measures will be disseminated to professionals in the food industry. It is planned to follow up the first results with studies focused on consumer health.
WHAT CAN PRODUCERS DO?
The research continues back down the chain to the primary production systems themselves. There will be focused research packages in the cereal, vegetable, dairy, poultry and pork sectors. Scientists will try out novel techniques to produce better and cheaper products in line with consumer requirements. For example, agronomists will test different weeding methods and crop rotations, while livestock experts will assess whether housing animals differently can reduce their worm burden.
Each year of the project, the partners will hold a major colloquium to present their results to user- and consumer-representatives. The colloquium will be used to measure progress towards the project's overall goal of improving quality, ensuring safety, and reducing cost along the European organic and low-input food supply chains.
List of Partners
- University of Newcastle upon Tyne (UK)
- Forschungsinstitut für Biologischen Landbau (Switzerland)
- Danish Research Centre for Organic Farming/ Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences (Denmark)
- Praktijkondersoek Veehouderij (The Netherlands)
- University of Kassel (Germany)
- Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association (UK)
- University of Wales, Aberystwyth (UK)
- Stichting Fenomenologische Natuurwetenschap: Louis Bolk Institut (The Netherlands)
- Universittā di Bologna (Italy)
- Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (France)
- Warsaw Agricultural University (Poland)
- University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna (Austria)
- Universidad de Trasos-Montes e Alto Douro (Portugal)
- Technological Educational Institute of Crete (Crete)
- Vysoka Skola Chemickotechnologicka v Praze, Prague (Czech Republic)
- Bar Ilan University (Finland)
- University of Helsinki (Finland)
- TUBITAK-Marmara Research Centre (Turkey)
- University of Bonn (Germany)
- University of Basel (Switzerland)
- Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (UK)
- Universitat Hohenheim (Germany)
- Universitā Politecnica delle Marche (Italy)
- Granarolo (Italy)
- Roger White and Associates (UK)
- Guaber (Italy)
- Anidral (Italy)
- Gilchesters Organics (UK)
- Agro Eco Consultancy (The Netherlands)
- Swiss Federal Dairy Research Station, Liebefeld (Switzerland)
- Groupe de Recherche et d'Echanges Technologiques (France)
- QUALITY LOW INPUT FOOD
- Full title:
- Improving quality and safety and reduction of costs in the European organic and low input supply chain
- Contract n°:
- Project co-ordinator:
- Carlo Leifert, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, firstname.lastname@example.org
- EC Scientific Officer:
- Daničle Tissot, email@example.com
- EU contribution:
- € 12.4M
- Integrated Project