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Call: Research and innovation for food losses and waste prevention and reduction through harmonised measurement and monitoring

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[[]] 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[[]], 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
Research and innovation for food losses and waste prevention and reduction through harmonised measurement and monitoring
Description of call
"Research and innovation for food losses and waste prevention and reduction through harmonised measurement and monitoring"

Expected Outcome:

In line with the European Green Deal priorities, and in particular the farm to fork strategy for a fair healthy and environmentally friendly food system, as well as with the EU's climate objectives, the successful proposals should support prevention and reduction of food losses and waste. They should therefore contribute to creating sustainable, healthy and inclusive food systems that deliver co-benefits for climate mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, environmental sustainability and circularity, sustainable healthy nutrition and safe food consumption, food poverty reduction and empowerment of communities, and thriving businesses.

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

  • Successful implementation of the harmonisation of food waste measurement across Europe, supported by the development of new tools across the food system on land and at sea, from farm to fork, producing reliable and comparable data on food and waste (area A);
  • With respect to food losses at the primary production stage:
    • robust measurement of the magnitude of food losses at the primary production stage (i.e., agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture) at Member States and the EU levels for various commodities and at aggregated level, thereby contributing to the prevention and reduction of such losses (area B);
    • better understanding of the drivers (root causes) of food losses at the primary production stage and identification of ways for policymakers and primary producers to prevent and reduce them (area B).
  • Well-informed and more effective policy and business strategies for preventing and reducing food losses and waste across the food system on land and at sea, from farm to fork (area A and B).


Each year, a substantial amount of food is lost or wasted all along the food value chain, from primary production to final consumption. Food losses and waste have negative impacts on the society, the environment and the economy. They contribute to food insecurity and hinder nutrition, generate GHG emissions and create pressure on land and water, including through habitat degradation and biodiversity loss, and are responsible for great economic losses. Such negative impacts are exacerbated in times of crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, when additional food losses and wastes are generated by disruptions in food supply chains.

Preventing and reducing the amount of food intended for human consumption that is eventually lost or wasted is a complex challenge. The robust and reliable measurement and monitoring of food losses and waste is key to tracking progress made over time and informing the development and implementation of effective strategies and actions.

The recent adoption of the EU Commission Decision (EU) 2019/1597 set a common method and minimum quality requirements for the uniform measurement of levels of food waste at the national level. However, since thoroughly assessing food losses at the primary production stage is difficult, time-consuming and costly, the common EU method excludes measurement of food losses at this stage. In addition to this lack of information about the levels of food losses at the primary production stage, there is also insufficient understanding of the root causes and drivers behind these losses, and this is key to developing effective strategies for preventing and reducing them.

Proposals responding to this topic should address one of the two complementary areas:

  1. Develop cost-efficient food waste-relevant data collection, integration and analyses based on a large number of varied sources (e.g. households, food services, other small business), as well as on food discarded through wastewater, in order to improve the mapping of current food waste profiles at European and national level. To this end, proposals should speed up the innovation process and develop and test new technologies and tools along the food systems – from farm to fork, on land and at sea.
  2. Develop and validate new tools and methods to measure and estimate food losses at the primary production stage, including storage of products originating from agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture. These new tools and methods should be applied and food losses at primary production stage measured across a large enough sample of diverse farms/production systems and value chains (including organic and agroecological), for a wide range of the most important commodities produced in the EU, across several years and in all Member States. This should generate robust measurement/estimation of food losses at the primary production stage for different commodities, at the Member State and EU levels, and at an aggregated level. Where relevant, measurements from Earth observation platforms may be used. To minimise data collection bias, each Member State should create a pool of trained researchers who are able to use the method and directly measure the food losses at the primary production stage. In addition to measurement, the direct and indirect drivers and root causes of food losses at primary production stage should be thoroughly investigated. Particular attention should be paid to the identification of market driven food losses at the primary production stage, to assess the potential for a reduction strategy based on marked demand shifts. Generated insights should also allow for identification of possible ways to prevent and reduce food losses at the primary production stage.

Proposals should provide recommendations for policymakers and best practice guidelines / business strategies for researchers and relevant operators across the various diverse terrestrial and aquatic food value chains.

Proposals should build on the work done by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre in support of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste and be aligned with the environmental footprint method developed by the Commission. The possible participation of the JRC in the project would consist of gathering data collected in the projects into a consistent framework for modelling food losses and waste, integrating life cycle assessment considerations in the projects, in particular in the assessment of food losses and waste prevention intervention and food innovation, helping translating results into policy relevant outputs.

Proposals should deliver on the food waste reduction and prevention targets relevant to the farm to fork strategy, across the food systems. In addition, in area A, they should also explain how they will deliver co-benefits on the four Food 2030 priorities: nutrition for sustainable healthy diets, climate and environment, circularity and resource efficiency, and innovation and empowerment of communities.

In area A, the required multi-actor approach must be implemented by conducting inter- and trans-disciplinary research and involving a wide diversity of food system actors, with special attention paid to consumers and civil society organisations.

Proposals are encouraged to build on past or ongoing EU-funded research and work together with relevant initiatives including the European Commission Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste. They should set out a clear plan on how they will work with other proposals selected under this and any other relevant topics, e.g. by participating in joint activities and workshops, or by running common communication and dissemination activities.

This topic should involve the effective contribution of SSH disciplines. Proposals should take into account and address inequalities, whether they be due to gender, race or other social categories.

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, Competitiveness, SME
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 7.00 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 14.00 million.
Typ of ActionResearch and Innovation Actions (RIA)
Funding rate100%

The proposals must use the multi-actor approach.
To ensure a balanced portfolio, grants will be awarded to applications not only in order of ranking but at least also to one project within the area A that is the highest ranked, and one project highest ranked within the area B, provided that the applications attain all thresholds.
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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