17 Dec 2021

Ensuring and protecting the food supply: the work is bearing fruit

The publication of the European Commission Communication on the Contingency plan for ensuring food supply and food security in times of crisis on 12 November 2021 wraps up the discussions generated by the Covid-19 crisis on its unintended consequences on the global food systems. How can we ensure that the delivery of food and essential goods across the EU is safe and uninterrupted across the value chain and borders in times of crisis?

When answering this question in its initial draft of the Contingency plan, the Commission did not include packaging as a key element to delivering goods uninterruptedly across the EU. In the past months, EUROPEN actively engaged with the Commission to stress the key role of packaging in the delivery of goods across the EU, a role that is all the more important in times of crises.

Packaging is an integral and essential part of the product supply chain, from the production to the consumption stage. The packaging supply chain plays a central role in minimising product and food waste and protecting products all along the value chains. The final Commission proposal positively acknowledges the importance of packaging in the supply of food:

  • It stresses the need for an integrated food systems’ approach which recognises interdependencies and does not only include the actors of the food supply chain itself, but also supporting actors, including “industries providing necessary inputs and packaging material”.
  • It highlights the importance of packaging in the supply of food, including concrete examples of how the shortages of packaging material threatened the supply of essential goods.
  • It underlines that the EU Single Market for goods and services enables safe food to be distributed efficiently between Member States, and that Member States adopting unilateral measures put the Single Market at risk, by limiting or restricting the free movement of food or by favouring national products.

Moving forward, the Commission will establish a European Food Security Crisis preparedness and response Mechanism (EFSCM), which will rely on a (new) dedicated group of experts composed of Member States’ representatives, non-EU countries whose food supply chain is highly integrated with the EU, and stakeholder organisations that have a role in the EU food supply chain. The EFSCM will support the European Commission in the implementation of the principles to be followed in times of crises, as defined in the Communication. The Commission will convene the group of experts periodically to improve the EU level of preparedness. The group may also convene in case of emergency or crisis, when exceptional, unpredictable and large-scale events or risks have the potential to threaten the EU food supply or food security.


  • 23 September 2021: UN Food Systems Summit
  • 29 September 2021: International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste
  • 13 – 15 October 2021: To contribute to the efforts in reducing food waste, and to celebrate the World Food Day (16 October), EUROPEN partnered with JA Europe, a non-profit organisation dedicated to preparing young people for employment and entrepreneurship, and EIT Food, to organise a three-day Foodathon (food hackathon) from 13 to 15 October 2021. The Foodathon aimed to raise awareness on the major challenges of the agri-food system, and gave the opportunity to +100 young people from across Europe and Africa to develop innovative solutions to respond to three main challenges: Food loss and food waste; Healthy nutrition; Sustainable agriculture. A winning team for each of the three challenges was selected and awarded during a virtual ceremony on 15 October.
  • 16 October 2021: World Food Day: Building a Zero Hunger Generation
  • 01-29 October 2021: European Commission roadmap consultation on Food waste reduction targets. Check EUROPEN’s response to the roadmap consultation here.


  • Upcoming (timing to be confirmed): Creation of the European Food Security Crisis preparedness and response Mechanism (EFSCM) and supporting expert group
  • Upcoming (timing to be confirmed): Public consultation on Food Waste Reduction Targets.