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Apply until:

Sep 17, 2024

Funding up to:

€11 000 000

Startup; SME

If you are:

Industry:

Indigenous Rights

Short description:

Innovating within organic food production labs to strengthen the value chain from farm to table.

ExpectedOutcome:
By producing high quality food with low environmental impact, organic farming plays an essential role in developing sustainable food systems in the EU, an objective that is at the heart of the European Green Deal. Under the European Green Deal’s farm to fork and biodiversity strategies, the European Commission has set a target of ‘at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land under organic farming by 2030 and a significant increase in organic aquaculture’. To achieve this target and to help the organic sector reach its full potential, the Commission has put forward a new action plan for the development of organic production in the EU[1].

In 2020, 9,1% of the total EU’s agricultural land was under organic production. This number hides substantial differences between Member States as regards the share of agricultural land dedicated to organic farming: from 0.5% to more than 25%. These differences are partially due to the lack of structures adequate for organic farm products in some countries. In line with the EU action plan for the development of organic production, the successful proposals will support the establishment of adequate structures that enable the proper channelling of organic production in supply chains allowing farmers to fully benefit from the added value of organic production.

Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

Reinforced local and small-volume processing of organic food;
Boosted innovative sustainable packaging solutions resulting in reduced waste (in particular of non-renewable and fossil derived plastics);
Fostered innovative supply and distribution models and short trade circuits;
Added value to organic agricultural products, improved organic farmers’ incomes and their positioning in agri-food value chains;
Enhanced market orientation and capacity of organic farmers and small and medium scale processors to meet consumer demand for sustainable and healthy diets based on organic food;
Increased availability, affordability and accessibility of organic food with positive impacts on sustainability, including on biodiversity, on climate, ecosystems services and public health.


Scope:
Organic farming has developed mainly at the primary production level, while the processing of organic farm products is less developed and regulated. Besides, the organic sector is characterised by its scattered nature, with imbalances in the food value chains limiting the bargaining power of organic farmers and producers still having access to a limited number of processors and retailers. Therefore, investing in innovative careful processing techniques and sustainable and reusable packaging, streamlining the distribution and logistics of organic produce and agricultural input networks, and achieving a better understanding of quality and safety issues in organic supply chains, in combination with regulations, is important for creating new value for consumers.

This will enable small organic producers, in particular those located in remote areas, to find an outlet for their production and benefit from the added value of their organic certification. However, operators are often reluctant to convert to organics due to the lack of organised and efficient organic commercial supply chains. In addition to the cross-cutting problems faced by agri-food supply chains, organic distribution can entail high operating costs and an imbalance between supply and demand. Exchanging experience and knowledge can encourage the creation of local food markets and short supply chains, and uphold the integrity of the organic quality of the product.

Proposals should establish and animate locally-driven, multi-actor organic food innovation hubs, bringing together researchers, innovators, farmers, processors and others, to:

Develop, test and pilot innovations in organic small-scale food processing, in particular careful processing, and new, sustainable and reusable packaging (avoiding non-renewable and fossil-derived plastics), optimising the preservation of nutritional quality, reducing perishability and ensuring food safety;
Foster diverse innovative solutions/approaches that are tailored to the needs of farmers and SMEs, while ensuring links between food processing and primary production, and adapted to the seasonal character of raw material production and processing in small(er) batches;
Develop and explore innovative supply and distribution models (including business models, market outlets and marketing strategies, short trade circuits, public procurement, food services), that are adapted to proposed innovative solutions;
Assess the impacts of the innovative solutions on sustainability (climate, environmental, social, including health, and economic);
Build a community of practice to share learnings, build capacity and support adoption of innovations at scale.

Proposals should cover a range of crops (indoor and outdoor), both arable and perennial, representative of the organic sector in Europe, as well as the organic livestock sector.

Projects must use the 'multi-actor approach', ensuring adequate involvement of all relevant actors, including farmers and SMEs. Proposals may build on existing research infrastructures, where relevant. Proposals are encouraged to build on past and ongoing EU-funded research and innovation projects, and are strongly encouraged to cluster with ongoing and upcoming projects. Proposals should include a dedicated task, appropriate resources and a plan on how they will collaborate with other projects funded under this topic, and ensure synergy with relevant activities carried out under other initiatives in Horizon Europe, in particular the topic in this Work Programme HORIZON-CL6-2023-GOVERNANCE-01-20: Developing an EU advisory network on organic agriculture’ and the future partnerships ‘Accelerating farming systems transition: agroecology living labs and research infrastructures’ and ‘Sustainable food systems for people, planet and climate’.


Specific Topic Conditions:
Activities are expected to achieve TRL 6-8 by the end of the project – see General Annex B.

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