Freshfel Europe is developing what it calls a “a state-of-the-art, standardized methodology” in hopes of improving sustainability across the fresh produce industry.
Under its Freshfel Environmental Footprint Initiative, the group and its members plan to launch the Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) for fruit and vegetables. The goal is that more transparency, better communication and comparisons of products – and how environmentally friendly they are – will lead to more accountability and also a better understanding of how well the fresh produce supply chain is meeting current and future standards.
“There is an urgent need for transparent and highly accurate product sustainability data within the sector,” Freshfel Europe Director for Sustainability Nicola Pisano said. “On top of current B2B and B2C demand for environmental footprint information, PEF methodology is likely to be employed by the European Commission in upcoming EU green claims and food sustainability label legislation. Fruit and vegetables are one of the most sustainable food categories. The shadow PEFCR methodology will help the sector better communicate this in the shift towards healthy, sustainable plant-based diets. The whole sector will benefit from the shadow PEFCR now and into the future.”
Freshfel officials say that many of the initiatives to try to improve product sustainability have been done individually and not through collaboration. What the new rules could accomplish in the assurance of comparable results and alignment. The PEFCR is expected to take two years, with a public approval process being implemented during its development.
The methodology’s creation, which is expected to update existing HortiFootprint Category Rules, is being supported by Wageningen Economic Research. Once completed, it will give the sector much more power in being able to deliver messaging that highlights the low environmental impact of fresh produce in comparison to other categories.
Wageningen Research currently has a fact sheet on the PEFCR for fruit and vegetables called ‘Addressing sustainability in the fresh produce sector’ available to those who are interested. It details information about a PEF methodology for fresh produce, legislative and sector developments around the PEF method, and the benefits of developing a PEFCR for the fresh fruit and vegetable sector. It can be download here.
Participating members include Ailimpo, ANPP, Apeel Sciences, Assomela, Bama Gruppen, Bayer AG, BVEO, COLEACP, Dole plc, Greenyard, Fresh Produce Centre, IG International, Interfel and VBT. The European Sprouted Seeds Association (ESSA) and Growing Media are also partners on the initiative.