Agri-food Code of Conduct tool

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1. What is the meaning of ‘agri-food’ in the title of the tool?

This refers to the ‘agri-food ecosystem’. The ecosystem includes all players in the food supply chain: farmers, food industry, food retail, wholesale, food service, as well as their suppliers of inputs and services. Everyone active in the ecosystem could use this tool. It is specifically meant for agri-food small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are interested in working on sustainability.

2. What is the meaning of ‘Code of Conduct’ in the title of the tool?

This is the shortened name of the ‘EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices’. This Code of Conduct is one of the actions of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, which is the EU strategy for a healthy, fair and environmentally friendly food system, that was published in May 2020.

The Code intends to shape a collective path for the sustainability transition of the food system. It has seven aspirational objectives, focusing on different sustainability aspects, covering economic, social and environmental sustainability. You can find all seven objectives below.

Anyone working on agri-food can become a signatory of the Code by committing to one or more of these objectives and by submitting a ‘pledge’.

The Code was launched in July 2021 with 65 signatories. It currently has more than 140 signatories.

The full text of the Code can be downloaded here: Code of Conduct. More information on the Code, including a list of all the signatories, can be found on the official webpage.

3. What are the seven aspirational objectives of the Code of Conduct?
  1. Healthy, balanced and sustainable diets for all European consumers
  2. Prevention and reduction of food loss and waste
  3. A climate neutral food chain in Europe by 2050
  4. An optimised circular and resource-efficient food chain in Europe
  5. Sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
  6. Sustainable value creation in the European food supply chain through partnership
  7. Sustainable sourcing in food supply chains
4. Why should I join the Code?
  • Be part of the food sustainability transition
  • Get visibility and recognition
  • Expand your network and build alliances for collaboration
  • Learn from others and share your own expertise
  • Have your say in prioritizing topics for common work
  • Stay up to date of new opportunities (e.g. for funding or investments)
5. What can I use the Agri-food Code of Conduct tool for?
  • Learn more about the objectives of the Code and the many areas it covers (see step 3 below)
  • Discover best practices linked to these objectives (see also step 3 below)
  • Select the objectives you are interested in (see also step 3 below)
  • Evaluate the objectives you selected (see step 4 below)
  • Download an overview of these objectives (see step 5 below)
  • Share your own best practice(s) (see also step 5 below)
  • Automatically generate a pledge to sign up to the Code in an easy way (see step 6 below – only for SMEs)
  • Upload your own pledge to sign up to the Code (see also step 6 below – for large companies, associations and other supporters)
6. How can I use the Agri-food Code of Conduct tool?

The step-by-step guide below will take you through the tool.

To get access to the tool, you will need an account. Creating the account will only take a few minutes (step 1 of the guide). Please feel free, however, to first have a look at the other steps, so that you get an impression of what the tool looks like. If you already have an account on the European Cluster Collaboration Platform, you can directly go to step 2.

Step 1: Create an account

Please start the tool by clicking on this link: agrifood.clustercollaboration.eu/agrifood

You will see the following:

If you click on ‘Login’, you will be sent to a page where you can register yourself under ‘Create a new account’.

You need to fill in your email address and a username. You will also have to accept the terms & conditions and solve a simple math question, to prove you are not a bot.

Click on the link in the email you received and set a password. Please also fill in your name, gender, organisation, country and job title.

The tool is placed on a platform that is called the European Cluster Collaboration Platform, the ECCP. For ‘Is registered as an organisation on the ECCP’ you can also change it to ‘No’ if you are using the ECCP for the first time. The question ‘Do you wish to profile your organization on the ECCP?’ will also automatically go to ‘No’.

Please accept the terms & conditions and click on ‘Save’. Your account will then be completed.

Click on this link again to now go to the tool: agrifood.clustercollaboration.eu/agrifood

Step 2: Fill in your details

The first page of the tool will appear. Please fill in your name and email address, and the name and size of your organisation.

If you are an SME, you will be able to automatically generate a pledge at the end of the tool. This is why we are asking how many persons your organisation employs.

This is what the page looks like:

Step 3: Select relevant actions

On the next page, you will see the seven objectives of the Code. Under each objective, you will see links to best practices. These are practices done by other companies that have proven to be successful. They might inspire you to do the same in your organisation.

You will also see the indicative actions that each objective has. These are examples of actions that are listed in the Code of Conduct, so the organisations that drafted the Code came up with these examples.

You will be able to select the actions that interest you and that you are already working on or would like to work on in the near future. In the next step, you will be able to indicate the level of priority you would like to give to these actions (low, medium or high priority).

Please note that you can also select the action under ‘Other’ if none of the listed actions apply to you. If you select that option, you will be able to submit your own action at the end of the tool.

As an example, this is what the second objective looks like in the tool, with the links to the best practices, and its first two actions selected:

Step 4: Rate your actions

On the next page, you will be able to give a rating to the actions you selected, to indicate if they are a priority for you. You could give the rating both for actions that you are not yet working on, but would like to work on in the future, or ones you are already working on. This step is optional – please feel free to directly go to step 5.

The ratings are the following:

1: Relevant, potential to improve, but not a priority

2: Significant potential to improve, medium priority

3: High potential of improvements - high priority for investments

You are also able to select ‘4’ as a rating. Please only do so for the actions in which you are already a frontrunner. This means that you are already doing very well in that area and/or have a unique approach. In the next step, we will invite you to share your practice with us, so that it could possibly be included as a best practice in the tool in the future.

Example:

Step 5: Download your results

On this page, you will see an overview of all the objectives and actions you have selected, and you will be able to download a PDF with this information. The PDF can be a useful reference, easy to share with others, and accessible offline. This is also optional – please feel free to directly go to step 6.

If you selected rating ‘4’ for an action on the previous page, and you select ‘Contact me to discuss’ on this page, you will be able to share your best practice with us:

We may contact you to discuss whether and how your own best practice could be added to the database, so that it could be promoted via the tool, should you wish to do so.

Step 6: Sign up to the Code

This is the last page of the tool, where you will be able to sign up to the Code. Please provide us with some more information, like your website and logo. Many fields are only optional, so please feel free to leave them empty.

If you are an SME, you can select the actions that you want to use as your commitments. Those actions will be used for your ‘pledge’. You will be asked to explain why you are joining the Code and how you will work on the action(s) you selected. Please explain why you chose these actions, your targets and what indicators you will use to measure your progress.

It is also possible to upload a document with your pledge, if you prefer to create the pledge yourself instead of using the tool. Examples of pledges can be found here: Individual pledges. For data protection reasons, please do not include a signature in the document.

Larger companies, associations (also small ones) and everyone else that would like to join the Code as supporter cannot use the automatically generated pledge and will directly have to upload their own pledge.

Associations wishing to sign the Code, should also inform us if they are a member of another (umbrella) association that has already signed the Code. In this case, the member association can still sign the Code but should provide concrete commitments (e.g. sector guidelines, roadmaps, studies) or ambitious commitments on behalf of their members, as outlined in section 1.4 of the Code. This is also the case for national associations.

Here is an impression of what the page looks like for an SME:

For everyone else the tool will directly show that you need to submit your own pledge:

After filling in the information, you will have to tick the boxes under ‘Final steps’, to indicate you agree on your pledge and that we can publish it on the Code of Conduct website.

Then you will have to click on ‘I submit the pledge’ so that your pledge will be sent to us.

After this you will see a ‘Thank you’ message.

Please note that when you use the tool to sign up to the Code, you agree to have your data processed. More information on this can be found in the Register of the Data Protection Officer (DPO) of the European Commission.

7. What best practices does the tool include?

The best practices that you will find in the tool for each objective are:

1. Renewables and organic food in a Danish hotel; Specialist shop in Italy

2. Low- and no-cost measures to reduce food thrown away; Hotel shares the benefits of reducing food waste; Fish manufacturer's no-waste approach; Efficient stock management and portion control

3. Sustainable and energy-efficient bakery; Renewable energy in food and drink manufacturing; Refrigeration upgrade in a store; New evaporation and protein extraction system; Optimising CO2 consumption; Food-processing company achieves energy savings

4. Optimising heat recovery; A second life for rice waste; Reusing coffee grounds; Innovative packaging; Efficient glass production; Jam manufacturer saves 100 tonnes of fuel oil; Favols optimises steam distribution

5. Energy awareness and positive involvement at Finnish dairy; Brewery uses dry lubricated bottling conveyor; High-pressure cleaning

6. Supply chain collaboration in food and drink sector; Intelligent fertilisation; Sharing machinery

7. Surplus food from grocery stores to charities; Supermarket collaborates with charity; Surplus food redistribution

8. If I want to join the Code as larger company, association or other supporter, what should my pledge look like?

The pledge should include at least one concrete commitment in one of the areas under the seven aspirational objectives of the Code (for companies) or should outline your support to the Code (for associations and everyone else).

Please have a look at the full text of the Code, which can be downloaded here: Code of Conduct. For companies the pledge should be in line with section 3.2.2 of the Code. Associations and other stakeholders fall under section 1.4 of the Code.

9. What about reporting?

As indicated in section 1.4 of the Code, a progress report should be provided on an annual basis. Further details for the reporting for companies can be found in section 3.2.3.

SMEs which are not able to report annually are allowed to provide simplified reports only once every two or three years.

10. Who can I contact if I have any other questions?

You can send any other questions you might have to SANTE-CODE-OF-CONDUCT [at] ec.europa.eu and GROW-CODE-OF-CONDUCT-FOOD [at] ec.europa.eu.

Please also let us know if you would have any suggestions to improve the tool or this guide.