As part of the Single Market for Green Products initiative, between 2014-2016 the European Commission has implemented two pilots’ waves to profile one analytical method for the evaluation of the environmental lifecycle performance of products, namely the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF). The pilots implemented by the EC have concerned a group of agri-food products, since they are traditionally characterized by a strong use of raw materials/natural resources (water, energy, etc..) along the whole value chain. Therefore, since food production systems and consumption patterns are ones of the leading drivers of impacts on the environment, it is important to assess and improve the environmental sustainability of food-related supply chains.

Why is this important for the agri-food companies in the Mediterranean countries?

Because the PEF standards might become in the next few years the unique and recognized environmental certification for agri-food products in the European Union. Companies which want to be labelled as “sustainable in production” could be required to show the compliance with PEF standards. Additionally, those SMEs and micro-companies which cooperate with the large agri-food corporations – as part of their supply chain – shall be requested to be PEF-compliant.

The Product Environmental Footprint could be a game-change factor for the Mediterranean economic system, where agri-food is the first economic pillar. Approaching as soon as possible the PEF-based environmental footprint standards is becoming a key competitive asset for companies and enterprises of any size.

The PEFMED project anticipates the market changes and – once having assessed the environmental performance of 9 pilot agri-food supply chains towards PEF requirements – prepares a broad number of Mediterranean agri-food companies to switch to greener standards in line with the next generation sustainability labels based on PEF.