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Connecting consumers and producers in innovative agri-food supply chains


Activities should look into concrete ways for producers to collaborate on opportunities which are both consumer driven and conducive to improving farmers' incomes (e.g. economies of scale, smarter distribution, reduction of environmental footprints, territorial approaches etc.), building on a set of good examples of efficient and applicable approaches to do so. Proposals shall collect and develop good practices for mutually beneficial cooperation, integrating the needs of primary producers and consumers in a hands-on approach. Proposals shall pay particular attention to the calculation of costs and margins for each link in the supply chain. Activities may cover infrastructure and logistics for efficient access to consumers such as smart joint logistics of producers' groups, outsourcing of transport to entrepreneurs sharing the values of the producers, optimising sales order picking and transport routes, regaining consumers' trust by shortening chains, direct sales and collaboration, etc. This should lead to a collection of good examples showing efficient access to markets, with a view to reducing costs for intermediaries as much as possible. Proposals should help to develop identity of primary producers and market position e.g. through unique selling points. They may touch upon on incentives from grassroots' initiatives like local food communities, agri-food clusters or food policy councils, the role of communities of practice and of knowledge hubs and even deal with legal constraints in so far as they support the envisaged impacts of this topic. Simultaneously, educational aspects may also be covered, such as connecting producers with consumers via open days, producer events, culinary events with local producers, food education in school curricula, celebrating local food heroes, promotion of local food labels, etc., leading to a set of concrete examples of education and awareness raising activities. Moreover, activities should support development of new public procurement approaches for offices, schools, hospitals, etc. interactively building smaller tenders to enable provision of local and seasonal food. Activities should make contracting authorities share experiences, create a dialogue with suppliers to attune supply and demand, and develop support mechanisms for smaller suppliers to meet tender requirements. Proposals shall fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach'[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.]] with a consortium based on a balanced mix of actors with complementary knowledge clearly including farmers/foresters, farmers' groups, advisors, contracting authorities and policy makers. The project's strategy, as well as related projects RUR-06-2020 and RUR-07-2020 should be coordinated with the SCAR AKIS Strategic Working Group (SWG) with a view to cross-fertilise between projects under this topic, in order to help sharing conclusions of the project with the competent policy makers and national or regional authorities. Projects should deliver a substantial number of ""practice abstracts"" in the common EIP-AGRI format, including audio-visual material as much as possible.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

In the context of a greater market-orientation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), one of the specific post 2020 CAP objectives is to rebalance the farmers' position in the food chain[[https://ec.europa.eu/info/food-farming-fisheries/key-policies/common-agricultural-policy/future-cap_en]]. The food supply chain is vulnerable to unfocused and even unfair trading due to strong imbalances between small and large operators: often farmers and small operators in the food supply chain have hardly any information or connection with the consumer to improve their offer and adapt it to the demand. A knowledge-based approach will strengthen the sector's market orientation and enhance its competitiveness, incentivising organisational innovation along the supply chain, triggered by new emerging technologies and evolving consumer demand[[https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/food-farming-fisheries/farming/documents/amtf-report-improving-markets-outcomes_en.pdf]]. Zooming in on the connections between producers and consumers therefore has the potential to improve farmers' position in the value chain, as it will strengthen capacity-building. Innovative supply chains and novel food systems may tackle the downward pressure on farm gate prices and at the same time make them more sustainable, e.g. by reducing CO2 emissions. Focus on costs and margins is needed: even in innovative chains, improvement of primary producers' incomes should not be taken for granted: cases illustrate that costs attributed to the intermediaries in short supply chains may rise from 20 up until 50%. Although smaller tenders fit for small-scale producers are vital to local and fresher food in public offices, schools and hospitals, the experience needed to enable adequate public procurement approaches is generally lacking[[See EIP-AGRI Workshop Cities and Food – Connecting Consumers and Producers https://ec.europa.eu/eip/agriculture/event/eip-agri-workshop-cities-and-food-–-connecting]]. Proposals have ample opportunity to build on sharing of good practices developed to overcome all these barriers.

  • Developing tailor-made and practical support to set up innovative supply chains creating win-wins for producers and consumers, including through a collection of examples of good practices, illustrating mutually beneficial cooperation and a fair share for primary producers;
  • Integrating the needs of primary producers and consumers in a hands-on approach in particular by minimising margins taken by intermediaries;
  • Improved sharing of experience between contracting authorities on tendering healthy and fresh food, with a view to connecting consumers with producers in a mutually beneficial way for the longer term.