PEFMED: Creating a sustainable agri-food sector in the Mediterranean
If used correctly, the European Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) can help the Mediterranean agri-food sector become more sustainable. The EU-funded PEFMED project was established to help Mediterranean agri-food businesses navigate, implement, and benefit from the complex PEF framework.
" Feta is a traditional Protected Designation of Origin product with a long history, made from sheep and goat’s milk. Through the pilot phase of the PEFMED project we tested the PEF methodology for dairy products in Feta cheese production. From these tests, we developed significant proposals and recommendations to become reliable and representative for this specific product category. "
The agri-food sector plays an essential role in the economic and social wellbeing of Mediterranean countries. Unfortunately, it has a significant environmental footprint. With sustainability becoming increasingly important for both governments and consumers, the sector needs to adapt.
Developed by the European Commission in 2013, the PEF is a harmonised method for quantifying the environmental impact of a product throughout its lifecycle – from cultivation to processing, transport, consumption, and disposal.
A tailored tool for improving agri-food business
The PEFMED method combines the EU’s PEF with a unique socioeconomic performance indicator (SE-KPI) tool. Developed by project partner DNV GL, it is used to identify where a company can improve socioeconomic issues such as human rights, working conditions, health and safety, cultural heritage and governance. Furthermore, the tool can be tailored to meet the specific needs of workers, local communities, consumers, and other interested parties.
The PEFMED method has been tested in nine Mediterranean agri-food product chains and clusters:
- Cheese: Lombardy, Italy; Thessaly, Greece; and Western Slovenia, Slovenia
- Cured meat: Catalonia, Spain
- Olive oil: Andalucia, Spain; and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
- Wine: Apulia, Italy
- Feed: Alentejo, Portugal
- Bottled water: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France
Based on the results of these tests, project researchers developed a sustainable business plan that each participating company can use to implement environmental and socioeconomic improvements. The plans detail how the solutions can be integrated into the company’s strategy and include information on timing, costs, and benefits.
In addition to the SE-KPI tool, project partner CRITT developed a unique tool for calculating PEF for olive oil and packed water. Following a brief consultation on their use, companies can incorporate the tools into their management strategy. Both tools are available for free from the PEFMED wiki platform.
In total, 56 enterprises (nine companies producing final products plus suppliers) were involved in the PEFMED pilot phase. With the support of regional agri-food federations such as Federalimentare, FIAB, FIPA, GZS, ANIA and SEVT, the PEFMED method and benefits will be rolled out to more than 100 companies across the Mediterranean region via dissemination events, training sessions, and transnational workshops.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “PEFMED – Uptake of the Product Environmental Footprint across the MED agri-food regional productive systems to enhance innovation and market value” is EUR 2 438 360, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 2 072 606 through the “Mediterranean” Transnational Cooperation Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period.
FranceRhône-Alpes Provence-Alpes-Côte D'Azur
ItalyLombardia Puglia Emilia-Romagna Lazio
FundEuropean Regional Development Fund
Operational programmeInterreg TN - Mediterranean
Thematic ObjectiveSupport the shift towards a low-carbon economy
Project duration11/2016 - 07/2019
Total Investment2 438 360 EUR
EU Investment2 072 606 EUR
Région Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur (France)
27, Place Jules Guesde 13481 Marseille Cedex 20 - France
ENEA – Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development
Via Martiri di Monte Sole 440129 , Bologna