The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has announced its winners in the first ever EU Organic Awards, co-organised with the European Commission and other partners to reward excellence along the European organic value chain.
To mark EU Organic Day, the winners of all categories were announced during a special ceremony held at the European Commission and hosted by the EU commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski.
EESC president Christa Schweng said:
The EESC has for years led the way in advocating for a more sustainable and comprehensive food policy in the EU. We are therefore very proud to be a co-organiser of these awards, contributing to raise awareness of the organic sector's potential to help achieve more sustainable food systems. For the first time we rewarded excellent, innovative, sustainable and inspiring SMEs, food retailers and restaurants that have created real added value for organic production and consumption.
The winners were:
- For best organic SME processing food products:
Goodvenience.bio GmbH – Magdala, Thuringia, Germany
The enterprise produces handcrafted and organic broths, soups, sauces, spices and oils. It is energy-efficiency, carbon neutral, minimises waste by using the 'nose-to-tail' concept, processes invasive species (e.g. crabs), uses short supply chains (direct marketing) and promotes healthy diets (via a recipe blog and cooking videos).
- For best organic food retailer:
La ferme à l’arbre de Liège – Lantin, Liège, Belgium
This is a small-scale supermarket on a farm which has been selling organic products such as meat and flour, not only from the farm itself, but also from organic producers across the region (short supply chains) since 1978. They focus on sustainable and circular production (the animals' feed comes from the farm and from the organic waste produced) and processing (homemade cold cuts of meat).
- For best organic restaurant:
Lilla Bjers HB – Visby, Gotland Island, Sweden
Lilla Bjers is an organic farm and restaurant which operates under the 'seed-to-plate' concept. The farm preserves biodiversity, is free from fossil fuels and collaborates with local farms. Fish is not served, given the depletion of the Baltic Sea; instead, they cultivate Roman snails. Energy is produced from sources such as wind and biogas. Packaging and food waste are avoided.
These awards are a real source of inspiration for our future and I would like to congratulate the winners again for their efforts! The organic sector plays an important role in achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goals. The winners today showcased how they work in their everyday life to make the transition to more sustainable and fairer food systems a reality said Peter Schmidt, president of the EESC's Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment (NAT) section.
The awards were launched as part of a commitment made in the Commission's action plan for the development of organic production with the objective of recognising excellence along the organic food chain, from farmer to restaurant.
This ceremony, by putting truly excellent organic projects in the spotlight, will contribute to raising awareness of organic production, and this is needed for the successful development of the organic sector. We have received applications from hundreds of actors covering the entire organic value chain who are contributing every day to reaching the Action Plan's target of 25% of EU agricultural land under organic farming by 2030 and strengthening the demand for organic products. I hope to see even more excellent initiatives during next year's call! said Andreas Thurner, rapporteur for the opinion on the organic action plan.
The increase in organic farming, organic aquaculture and organic food contributes greatly to reducing the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and antimicrobials, and has positive effects on our climate, the environment, biodiversity and animal welfare. This is why organic production has been identified as playing a key role in achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal, the Farm to Fork strategy and the Biodiversity strategy. For this reason, the Commission has defined a target of 25% of EU agricultural land under organic farming by 2030, and called for a significant increase in organic aquaculture.