EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

The food and drink sector - what future?

Sector Futures provides specialised reports based on the monitoring of existing foresight studies, scenario work, innovation studies and reliable data sources. The third feature in this series on the food and drink sector (January 2005) discusses the future of Europe’s food and drink manufacturing, exploring policy issues that arise from an examination of trends, drivers and scenarios. The landscape for Europe’s food policies for the future will be shaped by the debate on diet, nutrition and health.

In 2000, the EU was the world’s largest producer of all foodstuffs, exceeding the US production value by €80 billion. According to figures from the Confederation of food and drink industries of the EU (CIAA), the sector is bigger than Europe’s automotive, chemical, machinery and equipment industries. It is Europe’s leading industrial sector, worth over €600 billion in terms of production and €145 billion in added value (i.e. the value above raw farm prices). The European food and drink industry transforms more than 70% of the agricultural raw materials produced in the EU. And with its positive trade balance and exports totalling €45 billion, it represents a leading export sector as well.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, there is no question mark over Europe’s ability to feed its citizens, but there are growing concerns about diet-related health problems and issues concerning the ‘industrialisation’ of the food system. How will the food and drink sector respond?

From defining trends and drivers...

The July 2004 feature, The future of the food and drink sector (pdf 283 kb), provides a snapshot of the sector, focusing on some of the trends and driving forces that will map its future.

…to shaping the future of the food and drink sector

The second article in the series, Europe's food sector at a crossroads (pdf 181 kb) explores in greater depth the driving forces likely to shape development in the sector. It draws up three possible future scenarios by adopting a framework provided by Lang and Heasman. Though not conclusive, the scenarios illustrate a way forward and point to the need for further research.

Policy implications

The third and last feature in this series, The future landscape for Europe's food policy (pdf 102 kb), discusses the future of Europe’s food and drink manufacturing sector. In exploring the trends, drivers and scenarios, it became apparent that food and drink manufacturing is an integral part of a larger food system, and cannot be considered in isolation. Thus, any policy discussion regarding food and drink manufacturing has to take place within the broader context of food policy as a whole. Moreover, since the food policy agenda is increasingly linked to health policy, it is critical to consider the sector's future from this perspective.

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