This Study aims to provide food for thought for public decision makers, enabling them to implement national policies that are up to the challenges, by looking specifically at the example of France, which is currently engaged in the process of producing its future National Strategy for Food, Nutrition and Climate (Stratégie Nationale pour l’alimentation, la nutrition et le climat - SNANC), scheduled for 2023. To this end, the study uses original methodology to analyse current public policies, then puts forward governance recommendations on the rationale for action and the strategy’s level of ambition, including 36 proposals for practical measures.

Additional material: assessment table for measures

Key Messages

  • Implementation of the “Farm to Fork” strategy and the deteriorating environmental, social and economic food crises require Member States to promote stronger public action on food. The adoption of national strategies or action plans is a decisive step in this direction.
  • We base our analysis and the mobilization of levers for changing people’s eating habits on the food environment concept. In the policy realm, it has four dimensions: physical, economic, socio-cultural and cognitive.
  • Our assessment of policies for healthy, sustainable and accessible food is based on this analytical framework for evaluating French public policies. What emerges is an inconsistency between the importance of food issues and the ambition of public policies: today’s action is not up to the challenges of the transition.
  • There is therefore considerable scope for improving the implementation of existing policies and mobilizing more transformative tools. A change in the philosophy of public action is also needed: the approach based on the individual responsibility of the “consumer-citizen” is insufficient, if not counterproductive. A new policy approach must go beyond this and focus primarily on the food environment.
  • The literature suggests that acting on the food environment, by providing a tighter framework for the strategies of private actors and accounting for the diversity of food practices, can restore consumer freedom.
  • We propose 12 key measures to illustrate a coherent and ambitious set of public policies on the four dimensions of the food environment. We make recommendations on the governance, political leadership and implementation of the strategy.
  • The legitimacy and effectiveness of public policies will also depend on their ability to include all citizens in the transition project. This is subject to two conditions: putting social issues at the centre, and strengthening its democratic nature.
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