“From Farm to Fork” at BIOFACH: Experts discuss integration of biodiversity in supply chains

06.03.2023 – Press release of Global Nature Fund

  • At BIOFACH, the world’s leading trade fair for organic food, representatives of the “From Farm to Fork” project spoke about biodiversity in agricultural supply chains
  • From field to fork, stakeholders need to be made aware of the fundamental importance of biodiversity
  • Possible measures to compensate for costs resulting from sustainable production include higher retail prices, lower VAT and the consideration of ecosystem services

It is a mega issue for the food industry: biodiversity. Agricultural production is impossible in the long run without biodiversity; moreover, measures to protect biodiversity help the agricultural sector to adapt to the consequences of climate change. As part of a prominent discussion event at this year’s Nuremberg-based BIOFACH, the world’s leading trade fair for organic food, panelists discussed success factors for mainstreaming biodiversity in agricultural supply chains.

The discussants in the February 14 session have been working together with their institutions since 2018 to successfully test approaches to integrating biodiversity into agricultural supply chains in the “From Farm to Fork” project. Specifically, the project focused on biodiversity-friendly production of bananas and pineapples in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

Education for biodiversity and biodiversity-oriented standards

In her presentation, Carmen Langner, project manager at the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), cited intensive cooperation with local producers as a key success factor. According to Langner, awakening openness, interest and understanding for the topic of biodiversity is essential in order to protect biodiversity on large plantations as well as in small cooperatives. She presented the Biodiversity Check Agriculture (BCA) and an ideas competition for creative measures on farms as successful instruments.

The discussants agreed that the importance of education and training applies not only to producers, but also to those involved in agricultural extension: All those involved in agricultural production need to understand the impact that biodiversity loss has on their livelihoods and livelihoods. Therefore, biodiversity and climate protection criteria should also be integrated into internationally applicable sustainability standards such as Demeter and Fairtrade, which must apply to all certified farms.

However, Christoph Simpfendörfer of Demeter International and Martin Schüller of Fairtrade International addressed the increasing difficulty, in the context of such mainstreaming, of ensuring that the measures are implemented on farms given the additional prices generated by their certifications. “Cost of compliance” is the keyword for the costs incurred in complying with the criteria defined by the respective standard.

Approaches to cost recovery: higher prices, lower taxes, life cycle assessment

According to Simpfendörfer and Schüller, a major lever for solving the problem is to increase prices at the supermarket checkout: consumers must be made more aware of the importance of biodiversity in order to understand the need for higher costs – because surveys show that most people are quite receptive to the issue of biodiversity and sales of sustainable products are growing steadily. Demeter and Fairtrade are also currently working on other models that could complement the unpopular price increase for end customers in order to finance biodiversity measures.

One concept is to waive VAT on particularly sustainable products. This would reduce the price gap to conventional products and make sustainable products more attractive. Another model concerns the possible remuneration of the ecological values created – so-called ecosystem services – according to the concept of Regionalwert AG, which records and balances operational costs for biodiversity and climate protection measures.