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Food Quality and Safety in Europe


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In recent years, the availability of sophisticated businessto- business (B2B) e-commerce technology has improved tremendously. In the food industry, however, only large multinationals exploit the potential of such systems for their supply chain management. SMEs, for the most part, are rather reluctant to adopt advanced B2B e-commerce solutions. Given the fact that small players account for most of the turnover in the European food sector, the economic challenge is substantial.

B2B e-commerce refers to the exchange of goods and related information between companies via Internet tools. With regard to the food sector, B2B e-commerce takes place in the exchange of food products at all levels along the food chain (except retail) to consumer. This cost-reducing technology could bring several key advantages and much potential to SMEs in the European food industry, if they would only seize the opportunity.


The European food industry transforms 70% of EU's agricultural raw materials, employs over 4 million people in a majority of SMEs, and is central to the economic growth in new Member States, as well as to the economic development of Europe's regions and rural areas. Strengthening the competitiveness of the food sector will thus have major impact on job creation, wellbeing and welfare in Europe.

Recent developments point to the fact that only highly efficient processes for the exchange of food products along the food chains would provide the supply of European consumers with high quality food products at affordable prices. Information transparency at all stages is another condition, from trade relationships to consumers.

The barriers that prevent food sector SMEs from using B2B ecommerce are mainly due to difficulties in physically examining the quality and safety of food products and to the perceived risk of commercial transactions via e-commerce. This technology can only be affordable and trusted through improvements in both the trade process and the communication of trustworthiness between trading partners along the food chains.


Subsequently, E-TRUST ensures the affordability of high quality food by exploiting the efficiency power of e-commerce for food chains. Furthermore, it generates consumer confidence through transparent, trustworthy food chains able to deliver guarantees to consumers. To this end, the project makes use of multimedia food product, presentations to secure e-commerce technology infrastructures, and third-party quality signs.

E-TRUST established a European expert network with leading scientists in the fields of food quality and safety management, and chain tracking and tracing. Effective food chain e-business solutions can only work at a European level if they work beyond the geographical and cultural borders of each individual country. The network analyses the four major food chains: meat, cereals, fresh fruits and olive oil in the countries involved, paying special attention to their specific cultural influences.

Business representatives and food chain management consultants act as intermediaries in order to reach the largest possible number of SMEs in the European food sector. Thanks to an extensive dissemination plan, this also includes SMEs from European countries not involved with the project, adding a truly continental approach to the project. The E-TRUST project significantly improves both the food supply chain and the competitiveness of the European food sector.

List of Partners

  • University of Bonn (Germany)
  • University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (Austria)
  • University of Maribor (Slovenia)
  • University of Macedonia (Greece)
  • Polytechnic University of Madrid (Spain)
  • Wageningen University (The Netherlands)
  • University of Florida (United States)
  • University of Višosa (Brazil)
  • Uludag University (Turkey)
  • University of Bologna (Italy)
Full title:
Building trust for quality assurance in emerging markets for food chains
Contract n░:
Project co-ordinator:
Melanie Fritz, Gerhard Schiefer,
University of Bonn ,
EC Scientific Officer:
Alessio Vassarotti,
EU contribution:
€ 649,471
Specific Support Action

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top