The economic, environmental and social performance of European certified food

Bellassen, Valentin; Drut, Marion; Hilal, Mohamed; Bodini, Antonio; Donati, Michele; Labarre, Matthieu Duboys de; Filipović, Jelena; Gauvrit, Lisa; Gil, José M.; Hoang, Viet; Malak-Rawlikowska, Agata; Mattas, Konstadinos; Monier-Dilhan, Sylvette; Muller, Paul; Napasintuwong, Orachos; Peerlings, Jack; Poméon, Thomas; Tomić Maksan, Marina; Török, Áron; Veneziani, Mario; Vittersø, Gunnar; Arfini, Filippo


To identify whether EU certified food – here organic and geographical indications – is more sustainable than a conventional reference, we developed 25 indicators covering the three sustainability pillars. Original data was collected on 52 products at farm, processing and retail levels, allowing the estimation of circa 2000 indicator values. Most strikingly, we show that, in our sample, certified food outperforms its non-certified reference on most economic and social indicators. On major environmental indicators – carbon and water footprint – their performance is similar. Although certified food is 61% more expensive, the extra-performance per euro is similar to classical policy interventions to improve diet sustainability such as subsidies or taxes. Cumulatively, our findings legitimate the recent initiatives by standards to cover broader sustainability aspects.