The European Green Deal is a Europe’s economic, social, and environmental growth strategy moving forward. The European Commission is committed to supporting this strategy through transformative policies and direct investment. If you do business in the EU, or have European business partners, this will affect your organization over the coming years. Here, we bring you the basics of what the Green Deal is and start to unpack what this will mean for our industry both in Europe and around the world.
Motivated by the social, economic, and environmental consequences of global climate change, the Green Deal strives to achieve one landmark goal: to be completely carbon neutral by the year 2050. Moreover, they commit to achieving this goal while at the same time both breaking the link between economic growth and resource use, and ensure that all no one is left behind. This is a completely radical ambition, not just paying lip service to sustainability but making it the star of the show for the largest trade block in the world.
Under the Green Deal, the commission has been and will continue to roll out relevant policy. The following are the identified policy areas, and how they connect to our industry.
The produce industry is, of course, dependent on plant crops, all of which are derived from naturally occurring species that have been brought into cultivation. Maintaining biodiversity on our planet provides sources for diversity in our products.
- Farm to Fork
The produce supply chain will be directly affected by new policies that address how food moves from the field to consumers.
- Sustainable Agriculture
Growers will need to adapt their farming practice to be in compliance.
- Clean Energy
The exact implementation is to be determined, but this policy area will likely have a more diffuse affect on the produce industry.
- Sustainable Industry
Processing and packaging operations will be affected under this policy area, as the Green Deal champions environmentally friendly production techniques and facilities.
- Building and Renovating
Produce will be tangentially affected here as shippers, warehouses, and processors upgrade or build new facilities.
- Sustainable Mobility
To achieve net carbon neutrality, the Green Deal scrutinizes many sources of greenhouse gas emissions, including transportation. Shippers in the produce industry will be directly affected by this policy area.
- Climate Action
This is the direct goal of getting the EU to a point of carbon neutrality by 2050. This broad area can cover any point source of greenhouse gas emissions not directly addressed above.
The EU Green Deal is revolutionary and vast in its scope. Any single major policy shift will have a broad reaching ripple effect throughout an industry, and here we are looking at multiple policy areas. Luckily, we have the gift of time when it comes to the Green Deal: by unveiling the vision of this before the policies all go into effect, our industry has time to anticipate and invest to succeed because of, rather than in spite of, these changes.
We can look at the Green Deal as an opportunity to invest and make our businesses more sustainable on a level playing field. Rather than having to consider whether an investment into sustainability will make your business less competitive, remember that most of your peers will have to make those same investments to maintain access to the European market. This has two effects. First, eco-friendly products will become more affordable to you. We have seen this very clearly throughout history: as expensive new technology becomes widely adopted, it becomes cheaper. Here, the Green Deal will essentially force the adoption of new technologies to achieve sustainability goals, and the cost to make your business more sustainable will decrease as a result. Second, the entire industry will be investing and making changes in their businesses to meet the Green Deal policy requirements. While there is a concern that these efforts will cut into margins, remember that it will do so for your competitors as well.
In many ways, the Green Deal reflects values that we already hold dear: access to fresh, healthy food that nourishes our global population. As the EU Green Deal unfolds in a series of policy changes, we are here to support our members as you navigate these changes and maximize the benefits for your businesses. The power of the EU is that the scale of this initiative will likely lead the global industry towards a greener world. As companies change how they do business and make the investments necessary to enter the European market, they will inevitably become more competitive in other markets because of the higher quality of their products and higher social standards under which they do business. The EU has taken a stance, and the world of fresh will follow.