On 25 September, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) announced its winners in the three categories of the EU Organic Awards: Best organic food processing SME, Best organic food retailer, and Best organic restaurant.
For the second year running, this event was organised together with the European Commission and other partners to reward excellence along the European organic value chain. The winners of all categories took part in a special ceremony held at the European Commission and hosted by the EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski.
EESC president Oliver Röpke said: "The EESC has been advocating for years for a more sustainable and inclusive food policy in the EU. I am proud that we are part of this great initiative bringing quality food closer to every-day consumers, and covering all the steps of the agri-food chain. I would like to congratulate the winners of this year's EU Organic Awards and thank them for sharing their inspiring projects with us. We must continue to support such projects and to raise awareness about the benefits of healthy soil and a healthy diet".
The winners are :
Best organic food processing SME: the Merry Mill, Vicarstown, Ireland
The Merry Mill is a family run organic farm that produces a range organic gluten-free foods in Ireland. Their mission is to provide high quality products that not only feed the body and nourish the soul but are sustainable, amazingly tasty and, best of all, have no negative impact on the environment. The family operate a closed-loop system on their organic farm. They grow organic oats and have constructed a purpose-built oat mill on the premises, the first organic gluten-free mill in Ireland. They manage the whole process from farm to the consumer to ensure no cross contamination of other grains occurs. All milling biproducts and waste are used on the farm as animal feed and animal bedding, and so they have no production waste. The Merry Mill's commitment to sustainability has had a positive impact on the environment, local communities and the food industry as a whole.
Best organic food retailer: Gut Wulksfelde (Bioland) – Tangstedt, Germany
Gut Wulksfelde (Bioland) has a 600 m² farm shop in which they sell the produce from their organic farm. They farm 450 hectares of land with over 50 varieties of vegetables. They also process meat, produce eggs and run a bakery that bakes bread for the farm shop. The shop has more than 8000 organic food products and their state-of-the-art food delivery service reaches more than 3000 customers each week through e-cars and e-bikes. They also have a restaurant that has been awarded a green Michelin star for its 'vegetarian first' concept. Gut Wulksfelde is much more than just a shop - it is one of the most beloved leisure destinations in the area with great customer interaction, especially in self-harvesting. They educate over 7000 children each year about healthy nutrition and organic farming.
Best organic restaurant/food service: Restaurant Luftburg - Kolarik im Prater GmbH, Vienna, Austria
Since 2021, Luftburg - Kolarik has been the largest fully certified organic restaurant in the world, with 1200 seats. The restaurant was founded in 1992 with ecological and social sustainability at the heart of their philosophy. It is a family friendly space with a playground for children on the edge of an amusement park. They have published annual sustainability reports on their activities which include water-saving, food-waste prevention and tree‑planting. They use solar energy and e-cars and coordinate with suppliers to minimise packaging. They have won several recent Austrian prizes such as Bio-Austria, the Environment Award and Green Brand. They also invest revenue in start-ups which are working towards a more sustainable future.
Organic farming is key to achieving sustainable food systems, offering numerous environmental, economic, and social advantages. The policy framework for the EU's organic farming can be found in the European Green Deal and its Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies. The current common agricultural policy ensures funding for organic farming in all 28 CAP Strategic Plans. By 2027, around 10% of EU agricultural land will receive CAP support specifically dedicated to organic farming, which is twice as much as in 2020. The 2021 EU Action Plan noted a 50% increase in organic agricultural land from 2012 to 2020. Nevertheless, we must engage in more awareness-raising activities such as these awards, and ensure that organic food is accessible and affordable for both the farmer and the consumer. These actions are crucial for achieving the EU's ambitious goal of 25% organic farming coverage by 2030.