CEPS Project


Metrics, Models and Foresight for European Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security


The Horizon2020 project SUSFANS has as overall objective to build the conceptual framework, the evidence base and analytical tools for underpinning EU-wide food policies with respect to their impact on consumer diet and their implications for nutrition and public health in the EU, the environment, the competitiveness of the EU agri-food sectors, and global food and nutrition security. The project aimed to provide a comprehensive set of tools for assessing sustainable FNS in Europe, centred around the implications of the current diet for the sustainability of production and consumption in the EU, and the options for the EU agri-food sector to improve future diets in both the short and long run (i.e five years and one or more decades ahead). CEPS was leader of work package 3 on “Drivers and data – food supply chains”. One CEPS’s task was to analyze the role different actors in the food supply chain play in the establishment of food standards and their impact on the sustainability of the food supply chain. The analysis consisted of theoretical modelling and an empirical analysis. The final report pointed out that food standards play an increasingly important role in the way our food is produced and consumed. It also offered a complete overview of the issues surrounding food standards in three domains: sustainability, economic sustainability of the value chain and the political economy of standard-setting. There is extensive debate on the position of farmers in the food chain and how global price volatility and increasing concentration up and down the value chain is affecting famers, taking into account increasingly complex vertically-related markets. Market concentration and technological advances are claimed to have shifted the balance of power in the food system to global retailers and other concentrated sectors. Based on this consideration, a second CEPS’s tasks was to analyzes the functioning of the EU supply chain in terms of mark-up dynamics, as proxy of market power. CEPS collected firm level data and estimated firm-level mark-ups along the food supply chain using an innovative econometric methodology. CEPS estimated firm-level mark-ups of farmers, processors, wholesalers and retailers, how they change over time, and their volatility. Detailed micro-level data were used from Italy and France for the period 2006-2014. CEPS also computed markup volatility indicators for the different agents in the chain. The results show that farmers have a significantly higher volatility of mark-ups compared to other agents in food value chains, such as food processors, wholesalers and retailers. Whether this observation warrants policy intervention is the subject of further research. The main findings of both working papers were presented in several conferences and SUSFANS final conference. Finally, as a member of work package 1 on “Conceptual framework and FNS sustainability metrics, CEPS contributed to the development of SUSFANS conceptual framework and multi-layered index of sustainability metrics for the assessment of the EU food system, food security and dietary habits.

Giulia Meloni

Johan F.M. Swinnen