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April 2021
Issue #1

 Coordinator Corner 

As coordinator of the project, I am proud to introduce you to the first issue of the FAIRCHAIN Newsletter. 

The FAIRCHAIN research project is funded by the European commission and started in November 2020 for a duration of 4 years. The team behind the FAIRCHAIN project is dedicated to address the pressing need to transform existing food systems by developing intermediate food value chains relying on the shortcomings and advantages of currently existing long and short supply chains.

After our successful kick-off in November 2020, the partners went straight to work and initiated many project activities. This includes working on a definition for intermediate food value chains, mapping relevant technological, organisational and social innovations addressing key issues of existing supply chains and initiating the different case studies in both dairy and fruit & vegetable sectors. Our collaboration with our sister projects (PLOUTOS, LOWINFOOD, FOODRUS and CO-FRESH) is taking shape and we have identified common activities of interest. 

I hope you will enjoy reading our first newsletter and I invite you to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and learn more through the recently launched FAIRCHAIN website.

/ Geneviève Gésan-Guiziou

5 top reasons to follow FAIRCHAIN! 

  1. Learn more about intermediate food value chains, the development of which is one way forward the respond to the current unsustainable, conventional agri-food systems and to create a competitive advantage for small farmers and processors. 
  2. Discover relevant technological, organisational and social innovations that will ultimately enable the emergence of these intermediate value chains
  3. Know how to accompany these food systems towards more sustainability and resilience 
  4. Discover illustrative case studies in the dairy and fruit & vegetable sectors, implemented in 6 European countries
  5. Exchange with a dynamic and enthusiastic consortium encompassing 21 academic and private partners happy to share their experience 

 Open Contributions 

Intermediate Food Value Chains at a glance!

‘Intermediate food value chains’ is a recent concept in food system research. It has emerged to meet the growing demand for locally produced, small-scale, high-quality food across Europe - while accepting that not everyone can benefit from the main delivery system of direct markets.

Although the definition of intermediate food value chains is still a matter of discussion among experts, their main characteristics are already well-established:
  • Intermediate food value chains are mid-scale food chains that seize the ground between local and conventional supply chains.
  • They make it possible to supply fresh, sustainable and high-quality food in great quantity at a regional level. 
  • They are characterized by i) trusted and transparent relationships among the actors of the food chains (from farmers, to processors, distributors, retailers, supporting organizations and other enterprises), ii) fair distribution of value created among the involved actors, and iii) implementation of common values through collective organisation. 
These intermediate food value chains can be win-win situations, helping to build a more resilient system by offering small and mid-sized actors the opportunity to be more competitive, in other words, keeping them in the game. This is what we will try to demonstrate in FAIRCHAIN, through a set of technological, organisational, and social innovations. 

 FAIRCHAIN Case Studies  

What is happening in the FAIRCHAIN Case Studies? Here, we share information from FAIRCHAIN Case Study Leaders and every issue will cover a different Case Study.

Food Innovation Incubator, Austria

In this Austrian case study, the Sustainable Food Systems research group of the FH JOANNEUM University of Applied Sciences designs, tests, and evaluates a Food Innovation Incubator.

The driver for this social innovation is that in the Smart Food Grid Graz region, the fruit and vegetable value chain has no local infrastructure where food chain actors can interact and find solutions to innovation gaps with targeted support. Thus, the goal is to launch an incubator programme that encompasses consulting, networking, and prototyping of products, processes, and technologies for intermediate food value chain actors.

The case study applies a co-creative approach, meaning that food stakeholders will have specific participatory roles and the incubator programme will draw from diverse local knowledge and competences. A goal defining workshop will be supported by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research. In a July 2021 implementation workshop, local agri-food stakeholders and actors will co-create the incubator programme which will star in September, run for the next three years, and contribute to establishing more competitive intermediate food value chains.

 News & Updates 

Petrel helps retailers and manufacturers towards circular management of their packaging

Fighting against single-use plastics is a major concern for governments, industrial players, retailers and consumers.

Convinced that we must move towards zero waste, PETREL was founded in 2018 to support the Loop project in France and integrate it within Carrefour : more than 30 items are available in deposit packages on Carrefour website. Petrel’s IT platform “Petrel Hub” enables reverse logistics and customer refund tracking, in a Zero Waste as a Service approach.

PETREL also works with various actors and distribution channels to study and implement circular approaches to enable the reuse of all types of packaging.

PETREL is glad to put its expertise of French food retail and bulk distribution to good use in the FAIRCHAIN project to bring a zero-waste aspect to the distribution of fresh/room temperature liquid products. We will determine the concept with the highest potential, estimate the consumer behaviour, value perception compared to business as usual and price level acceptance. We will have to design new logistical models which reduce the consumption of packaging by using returnable packaging, either managed by the consumers or the producers.

PETREL will be active in the French Case Study.


Virtual workshop - Mapping methodology of existing agrifood value chains

On Monday the 29 March 2021, the FAIRCHAIN sister project CO-FRESH organised the virtual workshop “Mapping methodology of existing agrifood value chains” as part of the networking activities among RUR06 and RUR07 projects. The objectives of this event were:
  • Networking: to get to know each other
  • Exchange of knowledge and experience: to share insights from each project on the use of particular methods for mapping sustainable and innovative value chains
  • Explore collaboration: to find overlap and synergies in mapping value chains across the projects
Jacques Trienekens, emeritus professor from the Wageningen University, gave a keynote presentation on value-chains analysis methodologies, followed by short presentations on value-chain mapping activities in the projects FAIRCHAIN, PLOUTOS, LOWINFOOD, FOODRUS and CO-FRESH. Bärbel Hüsing, Fraunhofer-ISI, presented results of the mapping of intermediate value chains in FAIRCHAIN. The presentations were followed by an exchange about value-chain mapping similarities and differences across the sister projects and the identification of collaboration opportunities. 

Another webinar for the FAIRCHAIN consortium members is envisioned to familiarise them with the content of the report on mapping intermediate value chains recently delivered by ISI.


Cooperation with ‘sister projects’ is a requirement of the European Commission.  Here we will update recent collaborative activities of those projects focusing on food loss and innovative agri-food value chains.

Sister Projects

The collaboration and cooperation work with the sister projects continues with great intensity. An efficient working group has been created for all common activities.
FAIRCHAIN collaborates with the leaders of 4 important research projects under RUR06/RUR07: PLOUTOS, LOWINFOOD, FOODRUS and CO-FRESH. In the last 4 months, 4 cooperation meetings have been held every month by one of the project managers involved. The next meeting in April will be organized by LOWEINFOOD. Common activities and timetables of the 5 sister projects were identified to encourage cross fertilization and avoid overlapping and duplicates. 

First of all the 5 sister projects organized 8 working groups:
  1. List of partners /Network of Key Contact Experts/RUR06 - RUR07 Community
  2. Innovation Mapping Methodologies
  3. Value chain Assessment (Framework and Methodologies)
  4. (SMARTCHAIN) Innovation Platform
  5. Communication and Dissemination Activities (newsletters, social media, etc)
  6. Food losses quantification
  7. Co-creation methodologies
  8. Cooperation Planning and Workshops
The leaders of each group have been appointed; simultaneously, a database has been created that contains all the contacts of the partners of all the sister projects. Next month, it will be completed with the contacts of the communities of stakeholders. 

In addition, to share information on cooperation projects, a common platform will be used, starting from the SMARTCHAIN platform which has been running for 2+ years; from this new shared platform it will be possible to access the individual projects involved.

In the coming months, the external newsletter of the group's activities and the internal newsletter for all the participants of the sister projects will continue. The working groups are developing and will soon begin to realize their common goals.
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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and
innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101000723.