The scheme, published on July 5, was developed by the EU Commission under its Farm to Fork Strategy, in tandem with EU associations and companies, with active involvement and input from other stakeholders, including international organizations, NGOs, trade unions and industry associations such as FEFAC.
The Code sets out the actions that food processors, food service operators and retailers, can voluntarily commit to undertake to tangibly improve and communicate their sustainability performance.
Initial signatories include 26 food manufacturers, 14 food retailers and 24 associations.
Two levels of commitments are included in the scheme:
- EU associations: Set of seven objectives, each with its targets and indicative actions. These relate to actions that promote the shift towards healthy and sustainable consumption patterns. The objective is to improve the impact of food processing, retail and food services’ operations on sustainability and to improve the sustainability of the food value chains, in relation to primary producers and other actors in the chain. Associations have to report on progress on a yearly basis.
- Companies: Framework for frontrunners for ambitious commitments with measurable outcomes covering a wide range of areas, from animal welfare, to sugar reduction and cutting greenhouse gas emissions in their full product range. Companies will report progress by submitting a summary of their sustainability report on an annual basis.
FEFAC said that by signing-up to the Code of Conduct, it wants to reiterate its vision that animal nutrition is part of the solution to a successful transition towards more sustainable livestock and aquaculture chains, in line with the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy ambitions and the UN SDGs.
“The ambitions and objectives of the EU Code of Conduct are largely aligned with FEFAC’s own views on sustainable feed production as laid down in the FEFAC Feed Sustainability Charter 2030, released in September 2020.
“The European feed industry is well-positioned to make its contribution to the EU Code of Conduct’s targets on enhancing circularity and resource efficiency and responsible sourcing, in particular in relation to deforestation.”
FEFAC said it will be keeping a watchful eye on the future governance of the scheme and is, in particular, keen to see how the monitoring aspects will be worked out for signatories.
Commenting on the development, EU Commission executive vice-president, Frans Timmermans, said: “We need to make our food system sustainable and we need to do it soon. We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt biodiversity loss related to food production and shape a food system that makes it easier to choose a healthy and sustainable diet. Addressing these environmental, health, and social challenges in our food system require cooperation across the entire food chain and I am encouraged by ambitions of the stakeholders who have already signed up to the EU Code of Conduct.”
Stella Kyriakides, EU health and food safety commissioner, said close cooperation between all actors is essential to achieve a successful transition to sustainable food systems. “The EU Code of Conduct will facilitate this cooperation, building on the commitments the food industry has already made and encouraging more ambitious action.”