This Issue Brief provides the main results of a scenario exercise carried out in the frame of the SUFISA project. Its overall aim is to explore the potential changes producers could meet by 2030, in order to define strategic options and policy changes that would help farmers to address such changes. Four contrasted food system narratives were developed for Europe, with the aim of engaging stakeholders and experts in future-oriented debates at several levels.

Key Messages

  • Four contrasted narratives were examined: (1) International competition, (2) Europeanisation, (3) Ecologisation, (4) High market segmentation. They reflect potential changes in five structuring variable: trade policies, global demand, European diets, food chain organisation, technology. All four narratives were considered as almost equally credible/plausible by experts and stakeholders. This illustrates the growing instability European primary producers are facing and the need to open up the range of options to be considered for sustainable transitions. 
  • The most cited strategic option to face future conditions—whatever the narrative considered—is to increase the capacity of producers to differentiate products to supply segmented markets. This option requires public support at different levels in order to limit the complexity of differentiation strategies based on labelling and to ensure their credibility.
  • In a context of growing concentration in food chains, strengthening producer organisations and enhancing vertical cooperation along food value chains is also considered as a determining option to positively affect the economic sustainability of producers under all four narratives. The range of policy options to do so still appears limited, especially when considering the highly heterogeneous situations that co-exist today in Europe.
  • The extent to which such strategies (product differentiation, increased coordination) could also deliver benefits on the environmental side remains to be explored.
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