Towards a European Food and Nutrition Policy

Healthy lifestyles and sustainable diets require changes from consumers as well as the food system at large, including governments. The authors, Pieter van ‘t Veer, Krijn Poppe and Louise O. Fresco, look at current policies and practices, misunderstandings, drivers and optimal direction of innovation, and conclude it is necessary to transform the food system.

How far have governments, industries and consumers come on the way to effectively addressing the major challenges? In five points (global challenges, food system, emerging global policies, EU policy context, role of member states) a need for change in the (global) food system is sketched. This has consequences for the activities that governments undertake to push the food system in a desirable direction. Additionally five major technological developments and societal changes (digitalisation, personalisation, globalisation, integration and citizen science) are briefly addressed to  look what science and innovation can contribute.

Towards a European Food en Nutrition Policy

After identifying the drivers for innovation and several misunderstandings on food and health that pop up in the communication between policy makers, the authors look at the optimal direction of innovation. They see challenges in the domains of dietary quality, environmental sustainability, dietary change, social inclusiveness and the food chain. These challenges are full off trade-offs and synergies that are relevant to the food system as a whole.

Suggestions for a food, nutrition and health policy

Given the societal challenges concerning dietary quality, public health, sustainability and social inclusiveness, it is necessary to transform the food system. Starting from the Food2030 agenda, EU policy goals for food, nutrition and health should include balanced and sufficient diets for all citizens, reduced environmental impact (both in and outside the EU), viable and socially balanced agri-food business (in and outside the EU), and contributions to global food security through socio-economic connectivity. Interdisciplinary & in-depth research, data linkage & exchange, and public-private collaboration are required to generate the required knowledge and co-create effective mitigation strategies at all levels of governance. A connective research infrastructure in the domain of food, nutrition and health must be developed to enable the research community to tackle the societal challenges and work toward a healthy and sustainable food system.