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Special Issue "Sustainable Food System in the European Union"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Food".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2022) | Viewed by 12554

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Mariarosaria Lombardi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Economics, University of Foggia, Via Antonio Gramsci, 89, 71122 Foggia FG, Italy
Interests: social and technological innovation in agro-food system and energy sector; environmental sustainability of production processes; climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Vera Amicarelli
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Economics, Management and Bussines Law, University of Bari Aldo Moro, 70124 Bari, Italy
Interests: material flow analysis (MFA); circular economy applied particularly to agro-food sector and food loss and waste; environmental sustainability of production and consumption processes; bioenergy (biodiesel and bioethanol)
Dr. Erica Varese
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Management, University of Turin, 10124 Turin, Italy
Interests: food related aspects (e.g., food businesses, labelling, quality assurance and certification schemes, food waste management, industrial tourism); consumer science, protection and perception; international trade and customs

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Among the efforts to tackle climate and environmental challenges, the European Green Deal (EGD) plays an important role proposing a holistic approach in which all European actions and policies contribute to the objectives of the Green Deal itself. The EGD plans new, sustainable and inclusive growth strategies to enhance the economy, people's health and quality of life, taking care for nature, and leaving no one behind. The Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy is one of the EGD strategies focused on sustainable food systems and the complex links between healthy people, healthy societies and a healthy planet. The F2F strategy, while emphasizing the awareness that food systems remain one of the key drivers of climate change and environmental degradation, highlights the need of transition towards a green agri-food system.

The main goals of the F2F strategy are to ensure sufficient, affordable and nutritious food within planetary limits; to guarantee sustainable food production through a substantial reduction in pesticides, antimicrobials and fertilisers use and an increase in organic farming; to promote more sustainable food consumption and healthy diets; to minimize food loss and waste; to fight food fraud and to improve animal welfare. The F2F strategy’s aim can be summarized as a shift to a sustainable food system able to bring environmental, health and social benefits; offer economic gains and ensure sustainable growth paths.

This Special Issue of Sustainability intends to contribute to this field by collecting high-quality studies and research works related to the complexity of food systems to measure the progress in the achievement of F2F and EGD strategies’ goals.

This Special Issue is designed to encourage researchers to share their results by submitting original research articles, case studies, reviews, critical perspectives and viewpoint articles. The Special Issue’s final results will provide an updated picture of the effectiveness of the F2F strategy and of any corrective actions needed.

Dr. Mariarosaria Lombardi
Dr. Vera Amicarelli
Dr. Erica Varese
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • European Green Deal
  • Farm to Fork
  • circular economy
  • food system
  • green agri-food systems
  • food loss and waste
  • organic farming
  • animal welfare
  • healthy diets

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Article
European Integration Processes in the EU GI System—A Long-Term Review of EU Regulation for GIs
Sustainability 2023, 15(3), 2666; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15032666 (registering DOI) - 01 Feb 2023
Abstract
Prosciutto di Parma, Bavarian beer and Roquefort—Geographical Indications (GIs) have been systematically protected at the EU level for 30 years and are now an important part of the farm2fork strategy. The article analyses how the integration of the EU GI [...] Read more.
Prosciutto di Parma, Bavarian beer and Roquefort—Geographical Indications (GIs) have been systematically protected at the EU level for 30 years and are now an important part of the farm2fork strategy. The article analyses how the integration of the EU GI system can be explained from an institution and discourse theoretical perspective and ties in with the soft spaces debate. In doing so, scalar shifts in competence from a German perspective and the role of discursive spatial relations are examined in more detail. The empirical results are based on a mix of methods that includes the evaluation of secondary statistical data, document analyses, participant observation and expert interviews. The study shows that the European Commission (EC) is increasingly acting as a spokesperson for GIs, but that regional actors are also playing a more important role in implementation and enforcement. This development is fed by the influence of the agricultural policy instrument in terms of competition, but also consumer protection and trade policy. Overall, there are three development layers: protect and systematise, legitimise and expand and open and defend. A more independent development of the EU GI system as an instrument of quality policy and for the development of rural areas could give greater weight to the sustainability-relevant, environmental policy aspects currently demanded by society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food System in the European Union)
Article
Regional Patterns of Pesticide Consumption Determinants in the European Union
Sustainability 2023, 15(3), 2070; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15032070 - 21 Jan 2023
Viewed by 597
Abstract
This article contributes to the discussion about the socioeconomic factors that reinforce pesticide dependence in the European Union and hinder the transition to more sustainable agricultural practices in light of the European Union’s Green Deal objective of reducing the use of pesticides by [...] Read more.
This article contributes to the discussion about the socioeconomic factors that reinforce pesticide dependence in the European Union and hinder the transition to more sustainable agricultural practices in light of the European Union’s Green Deal objective of reducing the use of pesticides by 50% by 2030. The analysis has a two-pronged purpose: (1) to identify the determinants of pesticide consumption in the European Union by conducting a set of four seemingly unrelated regressions and (2) to emphasize the existence of regional patterns across EU countries formed by the factors that significantly impact pesticide consumption based on a cluster analysis. Per capita GDP, selling prices, population, and real income positively influence pesticide use, whereas subsidies and organic agricultural area negatively influence them. Pesticide use is most affected by GDP per capita and least affected by subsidies. Cluster analysis highlights regional differences reflected in three clusters: (1) the most recent EU member states, (2) the European countries with large population levels, and (3) the countries with the highest GDP per capita. Our findings may contribute to the EU’s capacity to generate policy changes at the member state level and can be built into recommendations to address the persistent overuse of pesticides. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food System in the European Union)
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Article
Forecasting the Optimal Sustainable Development of the Romanian Ecological Agriculture
Sustainability 2022, 14(21), 14192; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142114192 - 31 Oct 2022
Viewed by 532
Abstract
Organic farming is an important objective of the European Commission, translated into the European Green Pact through the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy, with EU member countries having to find solutions to meet the target of at least 25% of [...] Read more.
Organic farming is an important objective of the European Commission, translated into the European Green Pact through the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy, with EU member countries having to find solutions to meet the target of at least 25% of agricultural land being used for organic cultivation by 2030. The aim for Romania can be achieved by modelling the distribution of crops in terms of cultivated areas and production yields obtained in organic and conventional systems according to the population size. Applying quantitative and qualitative analysis of EUROSTAT data for the above-mentioned indicators, the geomean function, linear programming, and the simplex method were used, depending on the set objectives. To demonstrate that organic farming can be sustainable and in line with the three pillars of sustainability, economic, social and environmental, we related the agricultural area to the population of Romania to highlight the average annual growth rate for the 2020–2030 tine horizon. The results showed an increase in agricultural area per capita of 0.708 ha (4.91%), compared to 0.69 ha as the average for the period 2012–2020, which correlated with organic production yields 32% lower than conventional agriculture. Through modelling, the reduction in organic farm yield was found to be less than or equal to the increase in area per capita, thus reaching the proposed target. The results of this study have long-term implications for supporting the transition to organic farming in the sense that the study argues that reaching the target of 25% of agricultural land that can enter organic farming is in line with the sustainability trilogy. The approach used can be followed and replicated according to national agricultural policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food System in the European Union)
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Article
The Influence of Governmental Agricultural R&D Expenditure on Farmers’ Income—Disparities between EU Member States
Sustainability 2022, 14(17), 10596; https://doi.org/10.3390/su141710596 - 25 Aug 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 507
Abstract
This article investigates how governmental agricultural R&D expenditure affect economic prosperity and sustainable development, attempting to verify the hypothesis that agricultural research and development expenditures are among the key factors influencing the farmers’ income, as one of the sustainable development indicators. Statistical data [...] Read more.
This article investigates how governmental agricultural R&D expenditure affect economic prosperity and sustainable development, attempting to verify the hypothesis that agricultural research and development expenditures are among the key factors influencing the farmers’ income, as one of the sustainable development indicators. Statistical data were retrieved from European international databases for the period of 2004–2020 and were analyzed using the regression model. The results of the study indicate positive effects for most of the EU member states. The countries where the results validate the hypothesis are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Croatia, Ireland, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom, as a former member state of the EU. Further, the model confirms that a significant portion of farmers’ income growth is explained by the governmental R&D expenditure. These findings may change the methods and directions regarding the agricultural R&D expenditure, underpinning the macroeconomic policy and agriculture in rural areas along the pathway to achieving the sustainable development goals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food System in the European Union)
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Article
Skill Needs for Sustainable Agri-Food and Forestry Sectors (I): Assessment through European and National Focus Groups
Sustainability 2022, 14(15), 9607; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14159607 - 04 Aug 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1122
Abstract
The agri-food and forestry sectors are under increasing pressure to adapt to climate change, consumer concern, technological and economic change, and complex global value chains. In turn, such challenges require that the necessary skills and competences are identified at various levels and within [...] Read more.
The agri-food and forestry sectors are under increasing pressure to adapt to climate change, consumer concern, technological and economic change, and complex global value chains. In turn, such challenges require that the necessary skills and competences are identified at various levels and within specific areas of the sectors. For that purpose, eleven focus groups in nine different EU-countries and two at EU-level were organized within the ERASMUS+ project “FIELDS” with the participation of farmers, cooperatives, agri-food companies, foresters, forest industries, advisors, and education providers to identify the skills needed in the agri-food and forestry sectors. The focus group participants identified business and strategic management skills, communication skills, and other skills related to sustainability, entrepreneurship, digital and soft skills to be most important for the agri-food and forestry sectors as a whole. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food System in the European Union)
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Article
Economic and Environmental Assessment of Conventional versus Organic Durum Wheat Production in Southern Italy
Sustainability 2022, 14(15), 9143; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14159143 - 26 Jul 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 724
Abstract
Conventional and intensive agriculture systems represent an environmental challenge. This research aims at evaluating the economic and environmental implications of conventional and organic durum wheat production in Southern Italy by applying material flow analysis and the crop accounting method. The purpose is to [...] Read more.
Conventional and intensive agriculture systems represent an environmental challenge. This research aims at evaluating the economic and environmental implications of conventional and organic durum wheat production in Southern Italy by applying material flow analysis and the crop accounting method. The purpose is to evaluate and compare the natural resource consumption, waste generation and economic profitability of conventional and organic durum wheat farming, respectively. The functional unit is one hectare of cultivated land. System boundaries encompass all agronomic operations, from cradle to gate. The research applies a bottom-up approach and relies on either primary or secondary data. It emerges that organic durum wheat production reduces the use of synthetic chemical and phytosanitary products, as well as plastic waste, by up to 100%. Moreover, it decreases diesel use by 15%, with a consequent reduction in CO2 emissions, and also avoids soil and groundwater pollution. From an economic perspective, gross income for conventionally farmed durum wheat is still 55% higher compared to organic production. Public authorities should boost environmental sustainability by supporting organic production from either an economic or a social perspective, by enhancing the sharing of best practices, by certification for farmers’ groups, by research and innovation, and by incentives in taxation. Overall, this research represents a further step towards the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food System in the European Union)
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Article
Influence of the Total Consumption of Households on Municipal Waste Quantity in Romania
Sustainability 2022, 14(14), 8828; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14148828 - 19 Jul 2022
Viewed by 622
Abstract
Sustainable development is a worldwide concern. This paper presents an analysis of the influence of the final consumption expenditure on the total consumption of households in Romania. The regression function of the association between “the amount of municipal waste” and “the total consumption [...] Read more.
Sustainable development is a worldwide concern. This paper presents an analysis of the influence of the final consumption expenditure on the total consumption of households in Romania. The regression function of the association between “the amount of municipal waste” and “the total consumption of households” has a direct linear relationship. The regression variable “total household consumption” (X) has a regression coefficient of −0.03031, which indicates that the amount of municipal waste decreases by one unit as household consumption increases by 30.31 units. Therefore, this regression coefficient indicates that the volume of municipal waste decreases by 30.31 tons to an increase in the final consumption expenditure of households of EUR 1 million. The influence of the final consumption expenditure of households by consumption purpose on the quantity of municipal waste is in the following order: health; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels; clothing and footwear; miscellaneous goods and services; recreation and culture; food and non-alcoholic goods; restaurants and hotels; furnishing and household equipment and routine household maintenance; alcoholic and tobacco goods; communications; and education. The value of the Significance F must be less than 0.05. In the case of the model, it is found that this value exceeds the threshold of 0.05 in the case of consumption generated by health services, recreation and culture, restaurants and hotels, alcohol and tobacco goods, and communications. Regarding the high value of Significance F in relation to consumption, we find the sectors that generate the least amount of waste (services). In the case of all of the independent variables, we can note that the relationship is a negative one, which proves that an increase in the quantity of any expenditure of the households generates a decrease of the municipal waste quantity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food System in the European Union)
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Article
What about Responsible Consumption? A Survey Focused on Food Waste and Consumer Habits
Sustainability 2022, 14(14), 8509; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14148509 - 12 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 987
Abstract
The article analyses the problems of food waste and responsible consumption that include taking into account environmental-social-health and economic impacts of products and services. The study raises the research question related to whether people consume food responsibly. Analysis of research literature sources, systematization, [...] Read more.
The article analyses the problems of food waste and responsible consumption that include taking into account environmental-social-health and economic impacts of products and services. The study raises the research question related to whether people consume food responsibly. Analysis of research literature sources, systematization, synthesis, generalization, quantitative research and data processing methods were used in the article. The questionnaire was arranged on the pollimill.com website, and the link was shared with selected possible respondents. The survey was carried out in Lithuania and in European countries. The survey sample is equal to 1080 respondents (566 respondents from Lithuania and 514 from Italy, Poland, Latvia, Germany and France). A simple random sample was used in this research. The survey highlighted that the majority of respondents in the survey state that food is not often wasted. In addition, findings show that the population of Lithuania emits slightly less food than the population of the European countries participating in the survey. These findings could be crucial for the future green directions from the side of policymakers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food System in the European Union)
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Article
Assessment of the Relations for Determining the Profitability of Dairy Farms, A Premise of Their Economic Sustainability
Sustainability 2022, 14(12), 7466; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14127466 - 18 Jun 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 820
Abstract
The profitability of dairy farms is a broadly addressed issue in research, for different farming systems and even more so now, when it comes to the issue of sustainability in different agricultural fields. The present study presents an evaluation of the relations used [...] Read more.
The profitability of dairy farms is a broadly addressed issue in research, for different farming systems and even more so now, when it comes to the issue of sustainability in different agricultural fields. The present study presents an evaluation of the relations used for the determination of profitability of various categories of dairy farms, in terms of size, geographical area, and total milk production. In order to analyze the associated influence exerted on the level of profitability by the selected technical and economic indicators, regression functions were applied. The TableCurve program was used to determine the ideal equation that describes the data entered in a two- or three-dimensional representation. The research results showed that the size of farms and the level and value of milk production are directly correlated with profitability, and the unit cost is inversely correlated with it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food System in the European Union)
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Article
Consumer Choice for Milk and Dairy in Romania: Does Income Really Have an Influence?
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 12204; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132112204 - 05 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1870
Abstract
Milk and dairy are basic food products and their importance in healthy human development is well known. However, this does not mean that the consumers’ requests for these products are not evolving and fitting into the new context of sustainable development. By conducting [...] Read more.
Milk and dairy are basic food products and their importance in healthy human development is well known. However, this does not mean that the consumers’ requests for these products are not evolving and fitting into the new context of sustainable development. By conducting a quantitative analysis on 847 answers regarding milk and dairy consumption offered by Romanian consumers, the objective of this study is to reveal what are the main factors of influence for respondents when choosing a milk or dairy product, and to see if these factors are evolving towards including sustainability-related aspects. The results point out that while price and store availability are still present as choice criteria, new aspects that might be related to a sustainable behavior, such as ecologic certification, country of origin or traditional products, are considered by the respondents when purchasing milk and dairy. However, this depends on the level of income; higher incomes allow respondents to consider new criteria. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food System in the European Union)
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Review

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Review
How to Monitor the Transition to Sustainable Food Services and Lodging Accommodation Activities: A Bibliometric Approach
Sustainability 2022, 14(15), 9102; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14159102 - 25 Jul 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 898
Abstract
The transition to sustainable food systems is one of the main challenges facing national and international action plans. It is estimated that food services and lodging accommodation activities are under pressure in terms of resource consumption and waste generation, and several tools are [...] Read more.
The transition to sustainable food systems is one of the main challenges facing national and international action plans. It is estimated that food services and lodging accommodation activities are under pressure in terms of resource consumption and waste generation, and several tools are required to monitor their ecological transition. The present research adopts a semi-systematic and critical review of the current trends in the food service and lodging accommodation industries on a global scale and investigates the real current environmental indicators adopted internationally that can help to assess ecological transition. This research tries to answer the subsequent questions: (i) how has the ecological transition in the food service industry been monitored? and (ii) how has the ecological transition in the lodging accommodation industry been monitored? Our study reviews 66 peer-reviewed articles and conference proceedings included in Web of Science between 2015 and 2021. The results were analyzed according to content analysis and co-word analysis. Additionally, we provide a multidimensional measurement dashboard of empirical and theoretical indicators and distinguish between air, water, energy, waste, health, and economic scopes. In light of the co-word analysis, five research clusters were identified in the literature: “food cluster”, “water cluster”, “consumers cluster”, “corporate cluster”, and “energy cluster”. Overall, it emerges that food, water, and energy are the most impacted natural resources in tourism, and users and managers are the stakeholders who must be involved in active monitoring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food System in the European Union)
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Review
Consumer Perception and Understanding of European Union Quality Schemes: A Systematic Literature Review
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1667; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031667 - 31 Jan 2022
Cited by 31 | Viewed by 2511
Abstract
Food, agriculture, and labeling, affecting the environment are well connected concepts, the balance between them being determined not only by pedological and climatic factors or the development level of agricultural techniques, but also by national governments and international organizations’ food processing, trade policies [...] Read more.
Food, agriculture, and labeling, affecting the environment are well connected concepts, the balance between them being determined not only by pedological and climatic factors or the development level of agricultural techniques, but also by national governments and international organizations’ food processing, trade policies and regulations. In this context, the European Union (EU) encourages the use of different food quality schemes: “Protected Designation of Origin” (PDO), “Protected Geographical Indication” (PGI), and “Traditional Specialty Guaranteed” (TSG) to protect producers of special-quality foods and assist consumers in their purchasing decisions. This review examines existing studies on the impact of these labels on customers behavior. A total of 32 studies were found and systematized. The papers were selected if they featured unique empirical research on consumer perceptions of any of PDO, PGI and TSG labels. Using the search strategy, a literature analysis was performed based on papers extracted from Web of Science, Springer Link, Emerald Insights, and Science Direct. Although these papers highlight quite diversified findings, the internationally used labels play an increasing role in contemporary society and pandemic conditions caused by COVID-19, thus making the quality schemes relevant in consumer decision-making processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Food System in the European Union)
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