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Call: Innovative solutions to prevent adulteration of food bearing quality labels: focus on organic food and geographical indications

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Programme
Acronym HORIZON-CL6-FARM2FORK
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 2: Fair, Healthy and Environmentally-friendly Food Systems from Primary Production to Consumption"

National, EU and global food systems are facing sustainability challenges, from primary production to consumption, that could jeopardise food and nutrition security. The farm to fork strategy, which is key to the success of the European Green Deal and achievement of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs), aims to address these challenges and to deliver co-benefits for environment, health, society and the economy, ensuring that actions leading to recovery from the COVID-19 crisis also put us onto a sustainable path going forward. Research and innovation (R&I) are key drivers steering and accelerating the transition to sustainable, safe, healthy and inclusive food systems, from farm to fork, thereby ensuring food and nutrition security for all.

Sustainable farming systems provide a number of economic, environmental, social and health benefits, and are the main prerequisite for food and nutrition security. For farmers, who are the backbone of food systems and the immediate managers of natural resources, the Green Deal sets ambitious targets with respect to the sustainability and safety of feed and food production. These targets are included in the core Green Deal policy initiatives, in particular the farm to fork strategy, the biodiversity strategy, zero pollution efforts and climate action. R&I in line with the strategic approach to EU agricultural research and innovation[[https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/news/final-paper-strategic-approach-eu-agricultural-research-and-innovation]] will be key enablers if these challenging targets are to be achieved. They will speed up the transition to sustainable and competitive agriculture by unlocking the potential of agroecology[[http://www.fao.org/3/i9037en/i9037en.pdf]], including improving organic farming as part of the agroecological transition, boosting production of EU-grown plant proteins and advancing digital and data technologies (Destination ‘Innovative governance, environmental observations and digital solutions in support of the Green Deal’). R&I will support farmers to manage land, soil, water and nutrients in new, sustainable ways, in particular through the Horizon Europe mission in the area of ‘soil health and food’. New knowledge and innovative solutions will improve plant and animal health and welfare, prevent interspecies disease transmission through food production and trade systems, and reduce farmers’ dependency on pesticides, antimicrobials and other external inputs. Thanks to R&I, farming systems will maximise provision of a wide range of ecosystem services from more sustainably managed EU agro‑ecosystems and landscapes, and help to reverse the loss of biodiversity and soil fertility while ensuring resilient primary production (Destination ‘Biodiversity and ecosystem services’). Farmers will be better equipped to make a significant contribution to climate neutrality and become more resilient to climate change (Destination ‘Land, ocean and water for climate action’). Also, R&I will support the development of policy (in particular the common agricultural policy (CAP)), business models and market conditions enabling transition to sustainable food and farming systems. Effective agricultural knowledge and innovation systems (AKISs) will speed up innovation and the uptake of R&I results from farm to fork (Destination ‘Innovative governance, environmental observations and digital solutions in support of the Green Deal’). As a result, farmers will be able to transform their production methods and move to climate- and environment‑friendly, and resilient farming systems, thereby contributing to sustainable food value chains that provide producers with fair economic returns and consumers with affordable, safe, healthy and sustainable food (Destinations ‘Biodiversity and ecosystem services’ and ‘Land, ocean and water for climate action’).

Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture contribute directly to environment‑friendly, inclusive, safe and healthy food production by providing highly nutritional proteins, lipids and micronutrients for a healthy diet. Sustainably produced food from marine and freshwater bodies can and should account for a much bigger proportion of our overall food consumption. The farm to fork strategy seeks to help fishers and aquaculture producers to achieve better climate and environmental results and to strengthen their position in the supply chain. R&I will directly support the common fisheries policy (CFP) and deliver inclusive, diversified approaches to allow fisheries management to adapt to different realities, including in the international context. Sustainable and resilient aquaculture systems, including the use of low trophic species (e.g. algae and herbivores), high animal welfare standards and alternative sources of protein for food and feed, will increase seafood production and reduce its environmental impact while adding economic value to the chain. Seafood security will benefit from a drastic reduction in the current massive pre- and post-harvest losses in seafood biomass. Producers’ and consumers’ awareness, trust and behaviour with respect to the responsible production, consumption and disposal of seafood will contribute directly to the competitiveness and sustainability of the sector. An overarching partnership for a climate‑neutral, sustainable and productive blue economy will contribute to food security, added value, blue growth and jobs in Europe through a jointly supported R&I programme in the European seas, coastal and inland waters.

Transforming food systems for health, sustainability and inclusion requires robust, system-wide changes at all governance levels (from local to global and vice versa) as food systems are intertwined with all other sectors and are among the key drivers of climate change and environmental degradation. Food systems are to be understood as covering all the sectors, actors, stakeholders, organisations and disciplines relevant to and connecting primary production from land and sea, food processing, food distribution and retailing, food services, food consumption, food safety, nutrition and public health, and food waste streams. The European Green Deal and, in particular, the farm to fork strategy support a shift to more resilient and environmentally, socially and economically sustainable food systems, as required to deliver safe, healthy, accessible and affordable food and diets for all sourced from land and sea, while respecting planetary boundaries. This will involve a better understanding of the multiple interactions between the components of current food systems, to foster solutions that maximise co-benefits with respect to the four priorities of the Commission’s ‘Food 2030’ R&I initiative:

  • nutrition and health, including food safety;
  • climate and environmental sustainability;
  • circularity and resource efficiency; and
  • innovation and empowering communities.

R&I will accelerate the transition to sustainable, healthy and inclusive food systems by delivering in various areas: dietary shifts towards sustainable and healthy nutrition; supply of alternative and plant-based proteins; prevention and reduction of food loss and waste; microbiome applications; improving food safety and traceability; fighting food fraud; behavioural change; personalised nutrition; urban food systems (Destination ‘Resilient, inclusive, healthy and green rural, coastal and urban communities’); food systems governance and systems science; and digital and data-driven innovation (Destination ‘Innovative governance, environmental observations and digital solutions in support of the Green Deal’).

R&I activities supporting the partnership for safe and sustainable food systems for people, planet and climate will help identify and deliver innovative solutions providing co-benefits for nutrition, food quality, the climate, circularity and communities.

The EU also aims to promote a global transition to sustainable food systems. Targeted R&I activities, in particular under the EU-Africa Partnership on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA) and global initiatives involving international research consortia, will contribute to this ambition.

Expected impacts:

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out credible pathways to fair, healthy, safe, climate- and environment‑friendly, resilient food systems from primary production to consumption, ensuring food and nutrition security for all within planetary boundaries in the EU and globally.

More specifically, proposals should contribute to one or more of the following impacts:

  • sustainable, productive, climate-neutral and resilient farming systems providing consumers with affordable, safe, traceable healthy and sustainable food, while minimising pressure on ecosystems, restoring and enhancing biodiversity, improving public health and generating fair economic returns for farmers;
  • sustainable fisheries and aquaculture increasing aquatic biomass production, diversification and consumption of seafood products for fair, healthy, climate‑resilient and environment‑friendly food systems with low impact on aquatic ecosystems and high animal welfare; and
  • sustainable, healthy and inclusive food systems delivering co-benefits for climate mitigation and adaptation, environmental sustainability and circularity, sustainable healthy nutrition, safe food consumption, food poverty reduction, the inclusion of marginalised people, the empowerment of communities, and flourishing businesses.

When considering their impact, proposals also need to assess their compliance with the ‘do no significant harm’ principle[[See Article 17 of Regulation (EU) No 2020/852 on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment (EU Taxonomy Regulation).]], whereby R&I projects should not support or involve activities that significantly undermine any of the six environmental objectives of the EU Taxonomy Regulation.

To unlock the full potential of R&I and maximise impacts, participatory approaches, e.g. multi-actor approach, involving input from industry, technology providers, primary producers, the food, drink and hospitality industry, consumers, citizens, local authorities, etc. should be promoted with a view to co-creating innovative systemic solutions in support of food systems’ sustainability.

Topics under this destination should have impacts in the following impact areas of the Horizon Europe strategic plan for 2021-2024:

  • sustainable food systems from farm to fork on land and sea
  • climate change mitigation and adaptation;
  • enhancing ecosystems and biodiversity on land and in waters;
  • good health and high-quality accessible healthcare;
  • clean and healthy air, water and soil;
  • a resilient EU prepared for emerging threats; and
  • inclusive growth and new job opportunities.
Link Link to Programme
Call
Innovative solutions to prevent adulteration of food bearing quality labels: focus on organic food and geographical indications
Description of call
"Innovative solutions to prevent adulteration of food bearing quality labels: focus on organic food and geographical indications"

Expected Outcome:

The farm to fork strategy aims to accelerate the transition to sustainable farming and food systems by, inter alia, promoting the growth of organic farming with a view to achieve the target of at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land under organic farming by 2030. Moreover, the strategy envisages the strengthening of geographical indications (GIs), by including specific sustainability criteria, where appropriate. One of the strategy’s main priorities is to combat food fraud along the food supply chain. The successful proposals should therefore contribute to preventing food fraud of products with quality labels, in particular organic and GIs. In this way, they should facilitate progress towards the strategy’s challenging target for organic farming and strengthen the GIs scheme.

Projects results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • a wider use of new and improved tools and field-deployable methods and approaches for rapid and cost-effective verification of claims related to food products of plant and animal origin with quality labels, in particular organic and GIs;
  • unlocked potential of new technologies and other innovative approaches (e.g., business models) fit for farmers and food businesses (especially small-scale farmers and small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs)) as well as policymakers, which cost-effectively enable traceability and transparency along the supply chains of quality labelled food, in particular those with organic and GIs labels;
  • improved functioning and effectiveness of the control systems in Member States and Associated Counties and the EU’s legislative framework for organic and GI food products;
  • increased data availability, interoperability and use, and improved analytical capacity for enhanced traceability and transparency along the supply chains of quality labelled food, in particular organic and GIs;
  • well-informed decision-making by farmers, food businesses and policymakers to improve climate, environmental, economic and social sustainability along the supply chains of quality labelled food, in particular organic and GIs.

Scope:

Quality labelled food products, such as organic and GIs, are generally more expensive than their counterparts. Therefore, foods with such quality labels are particularly prone to fraud. Illegal practices can considerably harm the quality schemes, as they can undermine consumer confidence, thus damaging the farmers and food businesses who respect the rules. The main challenge is that it is difficult for consumers and operators across supply chains to visually distinguish genuine from false organic or GI products. Traditional methods of determining food quality are time consuming and usually require special laboratory analyses, which are often costly and may not be sufficient to guarantee a product’s authenticity and traceability. In addition, as organic and GI food supply chains become more complex, the need to ensure product traceability and transparency along the entire chain increases. Existing traceability and control systems help track products throughout the food supply chain and improve transparency. However, the organic and GI sectors rapidly change due to, for example, widespread use of e-commerce, and given the expected growth of these sectors, the risk of fraud may increase. Therefore, it is important to continuously innovate and upgrade the approaches to prevent fraudulent practices. Diverse new technologies and other innovative solutions (e.g., business models; participatory certification; local, short or mid-tier supply chains; etc.), are emerging to improve the authentication and traceability of quality labelled food products, in particular those with organic and GI labels, as well as to increase transparency of supply chains, thereby contributing to combating fraud. These innovative solutions need to be developed/improved, tested, demonstrated and deployed.

Proposals should investigate the current fraud practices affecting quality labelled food products, in particular organic and GI, and analyse the root causes/drivers of these practices and obstacles and ways to eradicate them. Based on these insights and building on the state-of-the-art in research and innovation, proposals should develop/improve, test, demonstrate and pilot promising innovative low-cost methods, tools and approaches to authenticate and/or trace quality labelled food products, especially organic and GIs, as well as to improve transparency of their supply chains from farm to fork. They should explore the potential of various technological and non-technological innovative solutions (e.g., digital (such as photonics, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, internet of things (IoT), machine learning, etc.), new business models (in particular involving and suitable for small-scale farmers and SMEs), suitable reference materials, rapid and field-deployable, non-destructive testing methods, technologies to improve cybersecurity, etc.), and their combinations. The heterogeneity of products and sectors, as well as the diversity of supply chains and contexts should be taken into account. Proposals should also investigate the barriers and incentives to scaling up the use of the innovative solutions as well as assess the positive and negative impacts on the different operations and actors in the organic and GI food value chains, particular attention should be paid to small-scale farmers, SMEs and consumers, as well as the control systems used in Member States and Associated Countries. Proposals should also develop a system to increase availability of and access to relevant data, promote data harmonisation and improve the ways in which data are stored. In addition, they should explore ways to advance the analysis, use, interoperability and security of data to enhance fair transparency and support better decision-making, to improve sustainability along organic and GI food supply chains.

The innovative solutions should be widely disseminated and recommendations for relevant actors in the public sector and business should be provided. Close involvement and consultation with project advisory board members is recommended. Projects should use the 'multi-actor approach', ensuring adequate involvement of all relevant actors, including input suppliers, farmers and SMEs. Proposals may build on existing research infrastructures, where relevant. Proposals are encouraged to build on past and ongoing EU-funded research and innovation projects, and are strongly encouraged to cluster with upcoming projects under the HORIZON-CL6-2021-FARM2FORK-01-10, HORIZON-CL6-2022-FARM2FORK-01-11 and HORIZON-CL6-2021-FARM2FORK-01-17 topics. They are also encouraged to cooperate with actors working on related initiatives, including the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality, which provides expertise in food science, authenticity and quality of food supplied in the EU. The possible participation/contribution of the JRC in the project would consist of ensuring that the project deliverables are compatible with and/or improve existing databases and tools used at the European Commission and fostering open access to project results via dissemination through the European Commission Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality.

This topic should involve the effective contribution of SSH disciplines. For this topic, the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Climate, Climate Change, Environment & Biodiversity, Circular Economy, Sustainability, Natural Resources, Agriculture & Forestry, Fishery, Food, Health, Social Affairs, Sports, Administration & Governance, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Disaster Prevention, Resiliance, Risk Management, Consumer Protection, Competitiveness, SME, Equal Rights, Human Rights, People with Disabilities, Social Inclusion
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Research Institution, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), NGO / NPO, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, Public Services, National Government, International Organization, Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), Start Up Company, Education and Training Centres
Applicant details

eligible non-EU countries:

  • countries associated to Horizon Europe
At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. Considering the Union’s interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

  • low-and middle-income countries

Legal entities which are established in countries not listed above will be eligible for funding if provided for in the specific call conditions, or if their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities - Affiliated entities are eligible for funding if they are established in one of the countries listed above.
  • EU bodies - Legal entities created under EU law may also be eligible to receive funding, unless their basic act states otherwise.
  • International organisations - International European research organisations are eligible to receive funding. Unless their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority, other international organisations are not eligible to receive funding. International organisations with headquarters in a Member State or Associated Country are eligible to receive funding for ‘Training and mobility’actions and when provided for in the specific call conditions.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions , legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State;and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

Page limit - Part B: 45 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 4.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 8.00 million.
Typ of ActionInnovation Actions (IA)
Funding rate70% (except for non-profit legal entities, where a rate of up to 100% applies)

Activities are expected to achieve TRL 6-8 by the end of the project.
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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