Background and issues
The agricultural and agri-food sector is a key sector of the European economy, employing over 13 million people. The agri-food supply chains around which it is structured have undergone varying developments over recent decades. A small proportion of food supply chains have become short or community-based, but the great majority have grown long and complex, and cater to ever more segmented food markets. Value creation is increasingly concentrated downstream, leading to a disconnect between the quality of the final product and the upstream modes of production. These transitions in the agri-food supply chain have attracted growing attention from the public as well as from policy-makers. Today, they are at the nexus of a number of sustainability issues: farmers’ incomes and changes in modes of agricultural production, the complexification and multiplication of processing methods and the resulting impacts on health and the environment, the proliferation of a “just-in- time” approach to supply and logistics chains in major consumption zones reducing stocks to a bare minimum, etc.
In this context, the VALUMICS project aims to develop new tools to analyse these supply chains so that policy-makers and companies can have the means to conduct ex-ante and ex-post assessements of the impact, of the measures adopted and the strategies implemented to ensure the sustainability, integrity and resilience of European agri-food supply chains. The project is led by an interdisciplinary consortium combining perspectives from economics, the political sciences and, marketing, as well as multi-agent and forward-looking approaches. More specifically, five case studies will be conducted in order to produce broader recommendations. These will focus on the following supply chains: wheat-bread, meat-beef, dairy products, aquaculture-salmon and tinned tomatoes. These analyses will be conducted across 10 European Union countries in order to simultaneously take account of the diversity of national circumstances and the structure of the EU Single Market.