During 5 years of close cooperation within Interreg Europe Program and based on the fruitful exchanges of experience, peer reviews study visits and interregional learning within the FoodChains 4 Europe project (FC4EU), important improvements of the food chains have been achieved in the participating regions: Flevoland (NL), Plovdiv/Sofia (BG), Emilia-Romagna (IT), Maramures (RO) and Greater Manchester (UK).
In line with the aim of the FoodChains 4 Europe, the action plans developed by the project partners in the 1st phase of the FC4EU project and implemented during the 2nd phase, have contributed to stimulate the delivery of innovation in order to create sustainable food chains in the FC4EU project regions.
MARAMURES COUNTY (RO) developed its food chains through implementing the ”Bun de Maramures” - ”Good of Maramures” labeling system. The aim is to support the sustainable innovation process in this field by valorizing the local products, representative for Maramures County. The initial regional policy instrument - Regional Operational Program 2014-2020 (ROP) is nearing the end, so that was replaced by the Sustainable Development Strategy of Maramures County 2014-2020, (SDSMC 2014-2020), the main policy instrument of Maramures County.
The Good of Maramures labeling system was developed based on best practices of FC4EU partner regions:
- food culture and a strong regional identity in Emilia-Romagna (IT),
- successful food networks in Flevoland (NL),
- innovative services and association structures in Greater Manchester (UK),
- cooperation between university and economic sectors in Plovdiv/ Sofia (BG).
Taking into consideration these Interreg good practices, Maramures implemented relevant activities for food chains innovation, such as developing the Association Good of Maramures with 10 producers as supporting members, 64 licensed products, creating innovative promotion instruments (website, interactive map, catalogues etc.), creating cooperation network for innovation, identifying innovation needs, local resources & financing opportunities. Main results of Good of Maramures labeling system, in 2020-2021
EMILIA ROMAGNA (IT) implemented its action plan in order to improve regional policies through a better integration between the most important EU funds: the European Regional Development Funds - ERDF and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development – EAFRD.
The experience during the peer review and the study visits allowed to complete our setting:
- The high effectiveness of Flevoland (NL) in optimize the potential of the different programs
- The interest of Maramures (RO) toward the importance of the quality products for the rural development
- The relationship modalities between scientific institutions and producers in Plovdiv/Sofia (BG)
- The importance diversification of the consumers’ needs and citizens in urban areas as seen in Greater Manchester (UK)
In particular the contribution of FC4EU was to destine specific resources (1 million euro) only for projects related to packaging and using new and sustainable materials in agri-food sector.
For the first time, in Emilia-Romagna Region - DG Agriculture, an European project has been mentioned in the text of a regional call and it has influenced the content of an official regional call for proposal. The call was approved by the Regional Council on 10 February 2020, with a deadline on 18 September 2020. Details about the Emilia-Romagna Action Plan
Plovdiv/Sofia (BG) focused on food chain innovation by improved R&D services and a cooperation platform. The project “Bulgarian Research Infrastructure for Food, Nutrition and Health” has been approved by the National Program for support of innovative infrastructures - “Innovations in Action”. The second action led to an establishment of an internet-based platform to develop food quality and food safety as a competence.
Greater Manchester (UK) developed a strategic approach to build sustainable food chains in Greater Manchester, supported by the development of a “Food leadership team”; by the use of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact framework and with the involvement of business community. Results of this actions can be seen in long-term, by including food to a greater extent in allied Great Manchester policies and stronger integration of innovation and economic development policies with social and environmental goals associated with food.
Province of Flevoland (NL) focused on tailoring to the Flevoland context the business support program from Manchester. The testing activities involved 23 businesses. The short food supply chain network in Flevoland grew and is strengthened. A B2B platform with 52 members and 219 regional products is developed. The Regional Food Alliance Flevoland is launched. The supply increased through 3 market channels. In total 502.77 kg food has been sold. Next to this, a collaboration with all regional authorities together with the ministry of agriculture on the topic of regional food developed.