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September 2021
Issue #2

 Coordinator Corner 

Very intense and productive past months for FAIRCHAIN!

All FAIRCHAIN partners have been making strong efforts leading in particular to the development of technological and organisational innovations with special focus (but not only) on flexible filling machine, new whey-based drinks, blockchain technology and zero waste distribution modes.

They started the assessment of the baseline value chains for each FAIRCHAIN case studies as a first step towards the definition of innovative intermediate value chains. During the past few months, they have launched the co-creation process and involved stakeholders into Goal-defining workshops to ensure the success of the implementation of innovations. And they were very active in working groups with other European projects and participated to European bodies meetings while ensuring the retranscription of the work to stakeholders with the preparation of the "innovative Food value chains platform".

These first 10 months of the project have then been very rich and stimulating! The FAIRCHAIN community was also growing with the inclusion of two new partners: I want to address a warm welcome to SLU, Sweden and Grangeneuve Institute, Switzerland!

This newsletter is just a glimpse of things that are happening. I hope you enjoy it and I invite you to follow us and learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and through our FAIRCHAIN website.

/ Geneviève Gésan-Guiziou

 Open Contributions 

Goal-defining Workshops - The first step in the co-creation process of the FAIRCHAIN case studies 

By: Ariane Voglhuber-Slavinsky, FH-ISI
The development of common goals is crucial for the later success of the innovations developed in the FAIRCHAIN case studies. Co-creating an understanding of the re-designed intermediate value chain and the goals to be achieved sharpens the focus of work and ensures the acceptance of measures taken during implementation, because all concerned stakeholders had the opportunity to contribute their perspective.

Therefore, in the FAIRCHAIN project, one goal defining workshop was conducted to develop the individual objectives of each of the six case studies. Appr. 20-30 stakeholders participated in each workshop, covering all relevant stakeholder groups (e.g. different stages of the agri-food value chain, different kinds of organizations, different regional levels or different company sizes). In addition, the stakeholders were characterised as to whether they are affected by the re-designed intermediate value chain or whether they have an influence on the concept of the innovation. 

The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (FH-ISI) team, led by Ariane Voglhuber-Slavinsky, developed the concept for the workshop series and tested it with the Austrian case study. After that, FH-ISI conducted a training workshop with case study leaders, in which they learned about the concept and good practice in organising, conducting, and summarising the results of their individual goal-defining workshops. The FH-ISI team also supported the case study leaders in modifying the workshop concept to adapt it to their specific case study.

The FAIRCHAIN goal-defining workshops took place between April and September 2021. The outcome of the workshops were shared goals for each of the case studies. Stakeholders discussed various topics: their expectations and preferences, which aspects they propose to focus on, or which pitfalls should be avoided in the case study. This valuable input will be central in the design of the FAIRCHAIN case studies and will be further elaborated in the FAIRCHAIN implementation workshops which will be carried out from September 2021 to January 2022. 

 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 at least one different Case Study.

Valorisation of whey for small and medium-sized cheese dairies: environmentally friendly innovative solution requires proximity.

By: Caroline Pénicaud, INRAE and and Geneviève Gésan-Guiziou 

The French case study aims to develop and distribute an innovative drink based on the use of whey, a coproduct of cheese dairies. Whey is currently valorized into whey or protein concentrates when produced in large volumes. However at small scale, its valorisation is limited and whey may go to wastewater treatment (depending on the whey acidity and volume produced). 

The partners of the Case Study in France (Sodiaal,  Laboratoires Standa, Actia, Petrel, and INRAE) start to assess the baseline of the Case Study in Eastern France.  

The aim of the environmental assessment, performed by INRAE, was to provide a basis for comparing the environmental performance of the developed innovation with the current situation. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is recognized to be the method of choice when measuring environmental impacts (climate change, resource depletion, etc. ) of a product, process, or service. The LCA analysis done here used a cradle-to-grave approach, i.e. from raw milk production to cheese products and current whey valorization. 

Results show that milk production and whey drying are the main hotspots in the environmental impact and that transport of whey from cheese dairies to valorization sites is not negligible. Thus, to be an environmentally friendly innovative solution, the whey drink should generate less environmental impact than whey drying and be produced as close as possible to the cheese dairy. LCA will be used to compare the new value chain to the current one and then to quantify environmental benefits. 

Blockchain offering trustworthy info in local dairy production

By Andreas Papadakis, SYNELIXIS

Local dairy production can have competitive advantages, including the use of locally produced milk, compliance with traditional processing methods resulting in richer taste, maintenance of nutritional value, and possibilities of customized products. Such intermediate food chains are typically characterized by more active human involvement, and the potential for transparency in the role of the stakeholders. Challenges also exist, related to the limits of economy of scale, the dependence on local production and conditions, and the difficulties in ‘proving’ the competitive advantages to increasingly demanding customers. The last challenge is the rationale of the Greek Case Study of the FAIRCHAIN project. 

SYNELIXIS, a high-tech SME providing innovative ICT solutions and platforms in smart agriculture (SynField) and other areas, and STYMFALIA a local dairy producer with established products offered in Greece and abroad, will employ the Ethereum Blockchain technology to capture operational information to ‘vouch for’ the competitive advantages of local dairy production. This information will be offered to consumers and other interested stakeholders in a trustworthy manner.  

The case study involves the production of Feta cheese, a well-known Greek product of protected origin, defined by the national legislation framework and offered locally and abroad, as well as a special type of sheep-milk yoghurt. The (infrequent) cases of fraudulent feta cheese production, identified nationally and abroad, reinforce the need for trustworthiness. 

The two partners are carefully analysing milk collection and cheese processing operations to capture data related to high-level characteristics appreciated by consumers. Blockchain, a technology being piloted in the food industry, presents a set of challenges including the need for near real-time data extraction and processing, the need to rationalize the level of data fine-graining, the inevitable overhead upon internal dairy processes and the presentation of the info to consumers in a meaningful and comprehensive manner. The Case Study already had a successful goal-creation workshop, in June 2021, validating the need for such a solution and providing insight for adaptation and improvement of the requirements and the specifications.  

The FAIRCHAIN project is looking for berries

By: Roger Uddstål, RISE  

The forest berry value chain is long and international. In Sweden, local berry picking has almost disappeared and been replaced by foreign berry pickers in collaboration with large wholesalers. There is a local market for wild forest berries, and more local value chains could be created if important obstacles can be overcome. One such obstacle for the berry-pickers is to find the berries in sufficient amounts.

FAIRCHAIN collaborates with RISE and researchers at SLU in Umeå to create knowledge that will make it easier for less experienced pickers to find the best places to pick. A special App has been developed that will be used for mapping the forests and for creating guiding maps for the pickers. The first test of the App was carried out during summer 2021 in an area south of Umeå. Now the information from the survey will be processed to create general models to predict where to find the berries.

During the autumn of 2021, the project will develop strategies for the coming years on how to demonstrate the potential of the App and how it can support an intermediate value chain. We are looking for partners who want to be involved in picking, cleaning, and selling berries in a new value chain. During the autumn, we will start investigating whether we can find a good location for a pilot study.


Past events

FAIRCHAIN was present at EU Green Week 2021! With the sister projects - CO-FRESH, FOODRUS, LOWINFOOD and PLOUTOS – innovative approaches to food sustainability at local and regional level were presented during an event entitled ‘Collaborative and circular food systems to reduce pollution and improve health’.
FAIRCHAIN coordinator, Geneviève Gésan-Guiziou participated at the SCAR AKIS 5 - 6th Meeting. She presented a complete overview of the project showing how intermediate food value chains can boost sustainability and competitiveness in the EU agri-food sector.
Ariane Voglhuber-Slavinsky, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, participated in the Workshop “Designing Co-creation activities for innovation in Food Value Chains” organized by CO-FRESH as part of the collaborative activities of the RUR06/07-2020 sister projects: FAIRCHAIN, FOODRUS, LOWINFOOD and PLOUTOS. She presented the goals and the methodology of the co-creation process in the FAIRCHAIN project! 
Luis Mayor López and Katherine Mary Flynn presented the FAIRCHAIN project at the 6th International ISEKI-Food Association Food Conference ''Sustainable development goals in food systems: Challenges and opportunities for the future''.
At the webinar on Intermediate Food Value Chains held on September 16, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI), proposed a working definition of Intermediate Food Value Chains. Examples of intermediate value chains were given by Tanja Kaufmann and their characteristics were clearly explained by Bärbel Hüsing.
Derler Hartmut, FH JOANNEUM, gave an oral presentation in the session "How will we eat?" at the Sept 2021 20th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production, in Graz, Austria hosting 200+ participants! In his talk entitled "Food innovation incubator as a co-creative space for the establishment of intermediate and competitive food value chains" he presented the Austrian case study and offered first insights into how it can contribute to more competitive intermediate food value chains.

Future events

FAIRCHAIN will organise the project Annual Meeting over three half-days on 23- 25 November 2021, in a hybrid format (both in Paris and online).


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.

“Design of sustainable food systems” summer school by LOWINFOOD partners

By Manex Urruzola Arrate, Oihane Lakar Iraizoz and Eider Olazar Elduaien, from ELHUYAR

From 5 to 16 July, 19 international students attended the summer school “Design of sustainable food systems” organised by the University of Tuscia with the support of SLU-Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and BOKU-University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences. The three organisers took advantage of their collaboration in the LOWINFOOD project to organise this educational event.

The 19 participants were students enrolled in universities of Italy, Germany, Austria, and Denmark and they represented 9 nationalities. They spent two weeks immersed in an international environment at the Alpine Study Centre, an experience that was very interesting and enriching for them.

Participants acquired an in-depth knowledge of theoretical and practical issues related to the sustainability of food systems, following a program with lectures, group works, and two field visits to local companies.
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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.