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Lock-ins analysis Developing Food Value Chain transition pathways: a stakeholder-based process

Elise Huber; Pierre-Marie Aubert

Recent biophysical scenarios have provided a clear picture of what the European food system should become by 2050 in order to stay within environmental limits (EAT-Lancet Commission, 2019; European Commission COM, 2018; Karlsson et al., 2017; Poux & Aubert, 2018). Although these modelling exercises depict a desirable long-term horizon, they leave completely open the question of how to get there – in other words, how supply chains should evolve, which actors will drive the change, and with what specific levers. Yet, radical shifts in production and consumption will require a significant reconfiguration of Food Value Chains (FVCs). This raises challenging economic, social and political considerations that are currently subject to heated debate.

Identifying and characterising FVC “transition pathwaysby 2030 is at the heart of VALUMICS Work Package 8. To do so, the VALUMICS team convened a multi-stakeholder dialogue bringing together over 20 stakeholders from the European food system community to help build a policy roadmap for the transformation of the European food system. Between November 2020 and January 2021, representatives from decision-making, business, research and civil society collectively defined the direction of travel and investigated the main obstacles, levers and trade-offs involved. The issues pertaining to three specific value chains (wheat, dairy and protein crops) were discussed in detail. This process helped identify three cross-cutting “lock-ins” currently preventing FVC actors from adopting more sustainable strategies: i) consumer habits; ii) market organisation (competition and trade rules); and iii) the current agricultural policy framework. It also brought to light certain “no regret options” for fostering a more favourable policy framework.

The first section lays out the design of the Workshop Series and the methodology used to garner stakeholders’ inputs into the development of FVC transition pathways. The second part highlights three major policy areas that were identified by participants as representing particularly important obstacles – i.e., “lock-ins” - preventing the transformation of FVCs: (i) consumer habits; ii) market organisation (competition and trade rules); and iii) the current agricultural policy framework. It provides suggestions for creating a more favourable policy framework in these areas. Finally, the last part summarizes the transition pathways co-developed during the Workshop Series for three food value chains: (i) wheat, (ii) protein crops and (iii) dairy.

The VALUMICS project is as well working on other FVC and further analysis of lock-ins concerning the processed tomato and aquaculture salmon chains. This will be reported on in follow up publications and is not covered by this deliverable report.

Huber, E. Aubert, P.M. (2021). Lock-ins analysis: Developing Food Value Chain transition pathways, a stakeholder-based process. The VALUMICS project funded by EU Horizon 2020 G.A. No 727243. Deliverable: D8.2, The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), Paris, 48 pages. DOI 10.5281/zenodo.5031644
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