European Organic Congress 2021

European Organic Congress 2021 to take place online from Lisbon on 16-18 June 2021

The European Organic Congress by IFOAM, with the title “Organic’s contribution to the European Green Deal”, aims this year to inspire the participants by focusing on how the agri-food sector’s initiatives enhance the transition towards a more sustainable food system, through the aid of leading examples from representatives and experts amidst the organic sector. The New EU Organic Regulation 848/2018 will also be explored, while focusing on its implications for the objective of 25% EU organic land by 2030. We will dive deep into how organic districts, living labs and farm demonstrations contribute to rural development and the success of the Organic Action Plan. Moreover, organic’s contribution to climate change mitigation, with the EU Green Deal, the Biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies and last but not least, the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) will be key themes for the Congress’ debates.

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GLOBALG.A.P. launched new GGN Label

GLOBALG.A.P. launched the GGN label © GLOBALG.A.P.


A cross-category consumer label to make responsible farming visible

Cologne, Germany (27 April 2021) – GLOBALG.A.P. c/o FoodPLUS GmbH launched its consumerfacing initiative, the GGN label, during an online event on 27 April. International stakeholders from the agriculture and retail sectors were invited to the unveiling event during which GLOBALG.A.P. experts presented the new GGN label. GLOBALG.A.P. also announced that the new GGN label can now be applied to fruit and vegetables as well. Unlike the previous GGN labels, which were specific to aquaculture and floriculture products, the new GGN label is a universal, cross-category label.

The GGN Label – “All in One”

Since consumers have one shopping list and are looking for consistent orientation across different product categories, GLOBALG.A.P. c/o FoodPLUS GmbH has decided to move from two scopespecific labels to one uniform label for all categories. The new GGN label stands for certified, responsible farming and transparency. Available for both packed and loose fresh products, the new label is available to producers, retailers, traders, packers and restaurant chains starting April 2021. 

“Transparency is at the heart of the GGN label. We help consumers to discover the roots of their products while helping the businesses who practice and support responsible farming showcase this. Together we’re taking transparency to the next level”, says Kristian Moeller, Managing Director at GLOBALG.A.P. c/o FoodPLUS GmbH.

The 5th Anniversary of the GGN Label

GLOBALG.A.P. c/o FoodPLUS GmbH introduced its consumer-facing initiative, the GGN label, five years ago. It was first launched in 2016 for aquaculture products, followed by floriculture products in 2017. Now in 2021, fruit and vegetables are also included. All products with the GGN label come from a farm whose production process has been independently certified according to international GLOBALG.A.P. standards or one of the standards that is recognized by GLOBALG.A.P. as equivalent. These standards are holistic in nature and cover food safety, sustainability, environmental protection, animal welfare, workers’ health and safety, and supply chain transparency. All these aspects of responsible farming come together under the GGN label, which provides transparency through unique 13-digit identification numbers that are linked to supply chain actors with GLOBALG.A.P. certification.

These GLOBALG.A.P. Numbers correspond with profiles on the GGN label portal (, allowing consumers to find the roots of their product. 576 farm profiles are already online. Click here to learn more about the GGN label.

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Selex chooses Sormapeel, embracing sustainability

Selex chooses Sormapeel, embracing sustainability
Press Release

The Sorma Group’s revolutionary packaging allows Selex brands to reduce plastic by 30% compared to traditional packaging and to increase the use of paper

CESENA, 22 April 2021 – Sormapeel, the innovative and ultra-light packaging line for fruit and vegetables, is entering the Selex Group’s supermarkets. Once the test stage has been successfully completed, the Sorma Group solution will be adopted for all the mesh packaging in the fruit and vegetable sector used for the Selex distributor’s brand name products. The Group thus ranks as the first company to have made a total and radical change, applying Sormapeel to its entire distributor’s brand name range.

This is a small, but major revolution: the plastic component of the packaging chosen by Selex will be on average 30% lower than that of traditional packaging and the paper component will be 30% higher, conveying the Selex Group’s brands’ focus on environmental sustainability.

“This step,” commented Luca Vaccaro, Distributor’s Brand Name Director of the Selex Group, “is part of a wide-ranging project concerning the sustainability of all the distributor’s brand name products. Selex, as the second largest Group in the modern distribution sector, has been working for over a year on a process that covers four pillars: safeguarding the working conditions of our suppliers and the supply chain, the quality of the raw materials used, nutrition education and reducing the environmental impact of our packs. With regard to the latter, we are working to reduce the amount of plastic required for the same performance, to replace virgin raw materials with recycled raw materials, to convert non-recyclable packaging into recyclable packaging and to eliminate overpacking.”

A test stage was carried out to determine whether the Sormapeel line met one of the Group’s specific requirements: Selex aimed to adopt a solution that would ensure the lowest environmental impact, not only in terms of recyclability, but also in terms of plastic reduction. Sormapeel fully meets both of these conditions since it is recyclable and lighter, thanks to the paper component, than a mono-polymer solution.

“We are very pleased that companies of this calibre have taken such swift action to implement their commitment to sustainability,” commented Mario Mercadini, Large Scale Manager at Sorma Group. “Sormapeel fulfils the 3 r: reduction, recyclability and reusability”.

In addition to robustness, functionality and lightness, Sormapeel’s strengths also include ease of recycling. Paper and plastic recycling is easy, quick and efficient: recyclers receive mono-polymer packaging, without inks and glues, which would compromise the quality of the recyclate. The paper, which has been awarded Aticelca A certification, is fully recyclable through the usual production processes, making it possible to reuse the cellulose in the strip.

Moreover, the incorporation of paper, with FSC certification, means that the packaging is made from 30% renewable raw materials, and thus meets the goals of European regulations (Directive 904/2019).

Finally, another major benefit of Sormapeel is the printable area, which is about twice the size of that of normal packaging. Once the paper layer has been removed, the inner part has a second surface available for communications: for example for brand storytelling, points for collection, recipes or drawings for colouring.

Sorma Group

Sorma Group was founded in 1973. It is currently the world’s only corporate group able to offer a turnkey solution comprising the entire line of machines required to automatically grade, weigh and pack fruit and vegetable products, together with supply of the technical material for creating all forms of packaging. It offers more than 160 automatic machine models, protected by 60 patents entirely developed by an in-house team of 35 engineers. More than 30 fruit and vegetable products can be graded and presented with the utmost precision and reliability to effectively respond to the increasingly demanding needs of large-scale distribution. The Group has its own operations centres in Spain, Germany, France, Turkey, the Netherlands, the USA and Brazil. Alongside these subsidiaries, there are also 40 specialist distributors operating at a global level.


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Tesco calls on retailers to take collective action against climate change

Tesco calls on retailers to take collective action against climate change
Photo: Tesco

Tesco has outlined its climate manifesto containing five key areas of focus, including cutting absolute emissions from energy and supporting the UK’s transition to electric transport, as well as tackling food waste, supporting the sustainable production of food, and helping customers eat healthy, sustainable diets.

Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy highlighted the need for both efficiency improvements and “cutting-edge” innovation if the retailer is to meet its climate change targets.

In 2017, Tesco committed to science-based climate targets on a 1.5-degree trajectory and aims to reach its net zero climate target in the UK by 2035, fifteen years earlier than originally planned. Through a combination of efficiency improvements and switch to low-carbon innovation, Tesco delivered a 50% emissions reduction last year on a 2015 baseline, beating its 2020 science-based target of 35%.

Murphy has now called on the wider food industry to play its part to deliver against the UK’s climate ambitions. “In this critical decade for tackling climate change, it’s vital we challenge ourselves to be more ambitious in our aims and accelerate progress against them. At Tesco, we’re playing our part by creating a better basket for our customers and the planet. No one business can tackle these challenges alone. We must take collective action as a food industry to drive the transformational changes necessary to meet the UK’s climate commitments,” he said.

Tesco has pledged to continue its work to reduce emissions in its own operations, including switching to renewable energy across all its operations by 2030, partnering with renewable energy investors to launch new renewable power generation projects, and launch its first fleet of 30 electric home delivery vans, switching to a fully electric delivery fleet by 2028. Tesco is also rolling out 2,400 charging points for customers across 600 stores, with 400 stores already fitted with the chargers. By the time the programme has concluded, Tesco will have boosted the UK’s electric charging network by 14%.


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Promising research on bioplastic from fruit waste

Promising research on bioplastic from fruit waste
Photo: Cristián Valdés Biochemist in charge of the project – FIA

Chilean researchers are working to create packaging containers for fruits for export to Europe and Asia using apple, pear, grape, peach and tomato waste. The initiative is promoted by the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA) and executed by the Universidad Católica del Maule, with support from the Foundation for Fruit Development (FDF) and San Jorge Packaging.

The biochemist in charge of the project, Cristián Valdés, said that the first stage of the process is to extract the nutrients from the residues of fruits and vegetables for the growth of a bacteria that produces the precursor of the bioplastic. The product “will be chemically treated in order to generate the material as such, to which antimicrobial properties will be added. Later, it will be transformed into biodegradable bags, shaping it by means of extrusion machines. Finally, the properties of the material will be optimised so that it is compatible with the packaging,” he said.

The project is in the first phase, related to the generation and optimization of the necessary conditions for the hydrolysis process of the different industrial wastes.


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UNICA to form part of 30 EU experts to define legislative framework of sustainable food system

UNICA to form part of 30 EU experts to define legislative framework of sustainable food system
Photo: Unica Group

Within the ‘From the Field to the Table’ strategy, an essential element of the Green Pact, UNICA has been selected, in the person of its director, Enrique de los Ríos, among the 30 European experts who will collaborate in the working group which will help develop the proposed legislative framework for sustainable food systems.

In accordance with the ‘From the Field to the Table’ Strategy, the framework legislation of the sustainable food system to:

  • promote policy coherence at national and EU level.

  • integrate sustainability into all food-related policies.

  • strengthen the resilience of the EU food system.

The European Commission will prepare a proposal for adoption at the end of 2023. The objective is to progressively raise sustainability standards, involving all stakeholders in the food system.

The Commission is rethinking food-related policies in the EU to strengthen its contribution to a fairer, healthier and more environmentally friendly food system. Therefore, different departments of the EU, including Agriculture and Rural Development, have requested the Joint Research Centre to create a multidisciplinary group of experts in food, including UNICA, in order to develop concepts that they could be part of a future legislative proposal for sustainable food systems.


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Albert Heijn eliminates plastic bags for fresh produce

Albert Heijn eliminates plastic bags for fresh produce
Photo: Albert Heijn

Netherlands retailer Albert Heijn has announced it is to remove all plastic bags from its fruit and vegetable departments and replace them with reusable, washable alternatives. In a statement, the company said the bags would disappear from its stores by the end of 2021, a move that will end the use of around 130m individual bags – or 243 tos of plastic – per year. A return system for the 31m bags used every year to deliver groceries to homes will also be introduced, it said, resulting in about 645 tons of plastic per annum being recycled responsibly.

According to the statement: “Everyone knows the plastic bags in the fruit and vegetable department Handy for loose apples or green beans, but bad for the environment if you don’t recycle them properly.”

For a two-week period from mid-April, all Albert Heijn customers in the Netherlands will receive a free reusable bag for fresh produce that is weighed in store before being purchased.


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US consumers join struggle to combat food waste

US consumers join struggle to combat food waste
Photo: USA store by Eurofresh Distribution Magazine

US consumers are making lifestyle changes to reduce food waste, according to new research by Proagrica. The study found that 76% of shoppers say they are more likely to shop more often and in smaller quantities to avoid having to throw away unwanted or spoiled food. Around 74% are now likely to buy more frozen food for the same reason, and 50% state they are now prepared to buy the “ugly” fruit and vegetables.

Men are more willing than women to accept less attractive foodstuffs (56% vs 46%).

As for who is most responsible for food waste, 41% of respondents said it is farmers, while 42% said it is manufacturers. Less than a quarter said it was consumers’ responsibility to reduce food waste by changing their own behaviours and shopping habits. Hence, the study suggests that the onus is on the food sector to do more to reduce the amount of discarded food. Nevertheless, 77% say they’re trying to reduce “food miles” by buying more locally sourced produce.

Graeme McCracken, managing director at Proagrica, said: “US consumers still feel it is primarily the responsibility of farmers and food producers to do more to alleviate the problem. Businesses in the food and agriculture industries need to actively show they are working together to make their operational processes more transparent and more efficient.”


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Mission Produce report highlights commitment to sustainable farming and waste reduction

Mission Produce report highlights commitment to sustainable farming and waste reduction
Photos: Mission Produce

Avocado specialist Mission Produce has published its first Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report, titled ‘Finest for the Future’. The report outlines the firm’s progress towards sustainable farming, and in addressing diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), climate risk, waste reduction and community investment. 

Mission Produce chief executive and founder Steve Barnard said: “Mission Produce’s first ESG report illustrates our dedication to the finest practices for our people, product and planet. We embody sustainable practices from field to fork and our advanced farming practices allow us to keep our water usage per avocado well below the industry average. Our people are passionate and have an innovative spirit, constantly driving our operations to reduce our environmental footprint and contribute positively to our global community.” 

With a focus on investing in people, reducing water and waste, and minimising carbon emissions, key highlights of the report include the implementation of reduced plastic bags in at least 50% of the bags packed and shipped globally by fiscal year 2025, equating to almost 500,000 0.5-litre plastic bottles. The report also highlighted Mission’s precision and biodiverse farming methods, which use 40.5% less water in its Peruvian production and 40% less water at its California base. 

By the end of 2021, Mission aims to apply shelf-life extension technology to 10,200 tons of avocados to combat food waste and reduce shrink of avocados, the equivalent of powering almost 563 homes, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Greenhouse Gas (GHG) calculator.

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GLOBALG.A.P. celebrates 5 years of GGN label with virtual live event

GLOBALG.A.P.  celebrates 5 years of GGN label with virtual live event

This year GLOBALG.A.P.’s consumer-facing initiative, the GGN label, is turning 5 and to celebrate this anniversary, a virtual live event is being held on 27 April 2021. There will be a look-back on the great achievements in the aquaculture and floriculture sectors and details of the label’s vision and exciting new projects for the coming years will be shared.

The GGN label promotes certified and responsible farming and wants to make this visible to consumers as a guide to responsible choices in their daily grocery shopping. Consumers have one shopping list and are looking for consistent orientation among different product categories in their daily grocery shopping trips. For this reason, GLOBALG.A.P. has decided to move from scope-specific labels to one uniform label for all categories.

The GGN label value proposition “certified, responsible farming and transparency” is highly relevant to consumers and plays an active role in their purchasing choices. This is why we have decided to improve how we communicate our value proposition so that it will be instantly and intuitively understandable in the context where purchasing choices are made: split seconds in the hectic rush of everyday life.

Fruits and vegetables represent a key component of consumers’ grocery baskets, which is why GLOBALG.A.P. wants to give consumers the option to make a responsible choice in the most important fresh-farmed product categories. As such, the GGN label will be extended to the agriculture scope, starting April 2021.

Sign up for the virtual unveiling event hosted by GLOBALG.A.P. experts. Participation is open to all interested parties and free of charge.

The New GGN Label Unveiling Event

Online event on 27 April 2021, available in two sessions:

  • Session 1: 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. CET (English)
  • Session 2: 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. CET (Spanish)

Each session consists of two parts:

  1. Unveiling of the new GGN label

    Find out all you need to know about the new GGN label with

    Kristian Moeller (Managing Director GLOBALG.A.P.)

    Federica Berardo (Director Marketing Operations GLOBALG.A.P.)

    More speaker details to be announced

  2. Questions and answers