Innovative agri-food chains: unlocking the potential for competitiveness and sustainability

The sustainability of food systems is challenged by various interrelated factors, such as the changing socio-economic and political context, the scarcity of natural resources, environmental degradation and climate change. These challenges cannot be met by individual action, but require multi-stakeholder action and coordinated initiatives along the value chain. A new holistic, systemic approach to the design of processes within agro-food chains is needed to unlock their full potential and deliver economic, social and environmental benefits.


The research will provide in-depth insight into linkages and interactions between agri-food chain stakeholders, including understanding of their perception and behaviour with respect to sustainability objectives and cooperation, potentially resulting in the design of new processes leading to new business models and better performing value chains. A holistic approach to improving mutual understanding and cooperation between value chain stakeholders (identifying incentives and barriers, and strategies and tools, e.g. technologies to overcome them) is to be explored, helping to create favourable conditions for cooperation, co-creation and innovation within value chains. The concept of social innovation and ways of measuring it throughout the value chain should be explored, taking into account the engagement of society. A plethora of policies and regulatory requirements influencing food production and consumption should be explored, and their implications as regards creating favourable overall conditions for cooperation and innovation along the food chain. Proposals should fall under the concept of the multi-actor approach.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

The project results are expected to:

  • enhance the capacity of actors within agri-food chains to design new processes leading to new business models and more efficient, equitable, sustainable and better performing value chains;
  • enhance the innovation potential of the European agri-food chains in terms of adapting to change and increase their competitiveness, sustainability and resilience;
  • strengthen farmers’ position in value chains through innovative approaches that enhance transparency, information flow and management capacity; and
  • limit the negative impacts of agri-food chains on the environment, climate and health.
Application date
Social sciences : Management and Public administration, Information and Communication Sciences, Demography, Economy, Environmental Sciences, Geography, International Relations, Law, Political science, Sociology