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Quantifying the sustainability of food and nutrition security in the EU: a new modelling strategy

The SUSFANS project aims to contribute to food systems change. To achieve this, the research will provide policy and decision makers across Europe with the tools to get a holistic understanding of the EU food system and how it relates to sustainable food and nutrition security.

Unveiling foodsystems: building a holistic set of metrics to assess food security in the EU food system based on stakeholder consultation

One of the main objectives of the SUSFANS project is to develop a set of concepts and tools to help policy and decision makers across Europe make sense of the outcomes and trends of the EU food system.

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Why consumers prefere both health and sustainability information - and why it should be done in a specific way

Consumers prefer combined information on health and sustainability benefits over only health or sustainability information. In addition, more specific information on health and sustainability is preferred over general information. This is the main outcome of the SUSFANS Deliverable D2.3 in which results of an online choice experiment conducted in The Netherlands, France and Czech Republic are shown. The aim was to analyze consumers’ sensitivity to product information on fruit and vegetable products.

The drivers of crop production at regional level in the EU

Crop production is the most crucial primary agricultural production activity for food and nutrition security. In 2011, around 70% of the global calories intake per capita per day derived from plant-based products. Besides its importance for direct human consumption, crop production is also crucial for producing feed for livestock and, increasingly, also for aquaculture.

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A modelling strategy for quantifying the sustainability of food and nutrition security in the EU

This deliverable outlines a modelling strategy for quantifying metrics and methods for quantifying the sustainability of EU FNS. SUSFANS models are assessed in terms of data needs, their limitations and the questions they can address related to sustainable FNS in the short term and the long term. This assessment sets the scene for operationalization of the SUSFANS Toolbox.

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Deliverable 8.1: Fundamentals, Speculation or Macroeconomic Conditions? On the Determinants of Commodity Price Dynamics, with an Application to Arabica Coffee

We analyse the role played by market fundamentals, speculation and macroeconomic conditions as empirical determinants of commodity price changes. We combine model averaging techniques to explain historical patterns with an in-depth analysis of out-of-sample predictability of commodity prices using fundamentals as well as macroeconomic and financial variables. Our results indicate that variables related to global macroeconomic and financial developments contain valuable information to explain the historical pattern of coffee price developments, as well as to improve out-of-sample predictions of coffee prices

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Deliverable 1.3: Sustainability metrics for the EU food system: a review across economic, environmental and social considerations

One of the main objectives of the SUSFANS project is to develop a set of concepts and tools to help policy and decision makers across Europe make sense of the outcomes and trends of the EU food system. This paper proposes a set of metrics for assessing the performance of the EU food system in delivering sustainable food and nutrition security. The performance metrics have been built up through the aggregation of a wide range of variables, which together help to monitor the achievement of four overarching policy goals for the EU food system, namely a balanced diet for EU citizens, reduced environmental impacts, competitive agri-food businesses and equitable outcomes of the food system. The project decided to take a hierarchical approach to aggregating from Individual Variables to Derived Variables to Aggregate Indicators to Performance Metrics. This approach aims at marrying the notion that decision makers want only a small but powerful set of metrics to communicate the findings of the assessment, with the need to substantiate these metrics with the best available data from a large number of sources in a transparent way. In this deliverable the current set up of the performance metrics focus on each individual policy goal. In a related report, the team explores if and how the performance metrics presented here can be quantified using available data and modelling tools, and which of the models of the SUSFANS tool box can estimate which ones of the performance metrics and how (report D1.4). In a final step the SUSFANS team will bring all performance metrics together in an integrated set that will allow a view across all four policy goals and thus across all aspects of sustainable food and nutrition security (forthcoming report D1.5). Further work is the quantification of metrics using case studies and prospective scenario analysis. In addition to their use for monitoring, the proposed metrics are geared towards quantification using selected computational modelling tools. As such, SUSFANS aims to assist in foresight on and the evaluation of transformative changes in the food system with rigour and consistency.

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Deliverable 2.3: Analysis of the online choice experiment on fruit and vegetables determining the importance of nutritional and environmental benefits and the level of information

In this deliverable we investigate consumers’ sensitivity to product information on fruit and vegetable products. Fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with better health and prevention of diseases (Guillaumie et al., 2012) and more knowledge is needed on how product information on fruit and vegetable products influences consumer choices. This study contributes to the existing literature by studying the combination of health and sustainability information. In light of dual process theories (ELM; Petty & Cacioppo, 1986; HSM; Chaiken 1980) we took both message content and message characteristics into account.

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Communication Plan

This deliverable embodies the Communication Plan and will report on Task 11.1. The communication plan includes a long list of the future users of the SUSFANS toolbox and first clusters of regions and target groups.

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Deliverable 8.3: Forecasting Commodity Prices Under Specification Uncertainty: A Comprehensive Approach

We present a comprehensive modelling framework aimed at obtaining short-term forecasts (one to twelve months ahead) of commodity prices and apply it to short and medium run predictions of Arabica coffee, wheat, soybeans and corn. We entertain a large number of univariate and multivariate time series models, including specifications that exploit information about market fundamentals, macroeconomic and financial developments and climatic variables. A comprehensive set of forecast averaging tools is implemented to explicitly address model uncertainty. Our results indicate that variables measuring market fundamentals and macroeconomic developments (and to a lesser extent, financial developments) contain systematic predictive information for out-of-sample forecasting of commodity prices.

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Deliverable 5.2: Innovation pathways towards future nutrition security: Innovation pathways towards more sustainable production and consumption in the livestock-fish supply chain and their uptake in the SUSFANS models

Our current dietary pattern especially animal source food (ASF), has a strong impact on the environment. Furthermore, in Europe, daily consumption of ASF protein is above dietary recommendation, resulting in an increased risk of chronic non-communicable diseases.The aim of this deliverable was to identify innovations that together can result in a pathway towards sustainable nutrition security by combining production-side strategies (reducing the environmental impact per kg of ASF produced), consumption-side strategies (changing consumption patterns of humans by reducing or replacing ASF), and the circular strategie, (focus on improving the circularity of the food system, and avoiding feed-food competition, and lies in between the production and consumption-side strategies). The paper identifies a set of innovations that has the potential to deliver a pathway towards sustainble healthy diets. These innovations comprise: including insects in livestock and fish feed; reducing meat intake and replacing beef with other ASF products including fish, and including novel protein source e.g. in-vitro meat; a circular strategy centred around using products unfit for human consumption in livestock feed. Data is presented that supports the assessment of the impact of these innovation options on the contribution of ASF in a sustainable and healthy diet, using the SUSFANS toolbox. Similar to this the role of captured seafood - fishing at equilibrium (sustainable yields)- in a suitable diet will be assessed.

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Deliverable 4.6: Spatially explicit farm and environmental indicators at a scale of 1 km x 1 km

Land use diversity and soil erosion are amongst the aggregated variables required for describing environmental sustainability in the domains ‘biodiversity’ and ‘natural resources’. Both aggregated variables need to be quantified at high spatial resolution. The CAPRI model is able to do this, but the calculation procedure required improvements. This report describes basic features of the methodology, scrutinizes deficiencies in the current implementation and identifies possibilities to update and improve the method.

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Latest Blog Posts


How can we improve the food system in the EU, especially from the perspective of social, environmental and economic sustainability? How can we balance and encompass views on how to strengthen food and nutrition security in the EU?

These are the core questions of the SUSFANS project. SUSFANS’ overall goal is to come to a better food and nutrition system for human health, the environment and corporate enterprises in Europe.

Sep, 19 2016   0 Comments   Sebastian Eckert