Today, as a true pan-European collaborative venture, the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), COPA-COGECA and IFOAM Organics Europe are together launching the first ever EU organic awards. These awards will recognise excellence along the organic value chain, rewarding the best and most innovative actors in organic production in the EU. Applications will be open from 25 March until 8 June 2022.
These awards are the first example of EU-wide organic awards and are conceived as a follow-up to the Action Plan for the development of organic production, adopted by the Commission on 25 March 2021, which announced the launch of such awards to raise awareness of organic production and increase demand for organic products.
Seven awards within eight categories will be given out, including best organic farmer female, best organic farmer male, best organic region, best organic city, best organic bio-district, best organic SME, best organic food retailer and best organic restaurant. More information can be found on the dedicated EU Organic Awards page.
An award ceremony will be organised to announce the winners on EU organic day, 23 September 2022.
Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski said:
I am proud to see the EU organic awards become a reality. We have been working hard to ensure this follows the establishment of an annual EU organic day, now every 23 September since last year. Organic production is and will play a key role in the transition to sustainable food systems, and we cannot achieve this without the various actors of the organic supply chain. These awards are a great opportunity to celebrate them while promoting examples of best practices across the EU. I look forward to hearing about these best practices, and encourage all organic actors to apply
EESC president Christa Schweng said:
Organic is more than just a label on the product. It is a whole philosophy – the way we produce and consume our food can make our planet more sustainable and help make sure it is fit for future challenges. This requires recognition and promotion throughout the food chain. The EESC is very proud to be co-hosting these awards, thus raising awareness of the organic sector's potential to help achieve more sustainable food systems.
We will reward excellent, innovative, sustainable and inspiring SMEs, food retailers and restaurants that have created real added value for organic production and consumption.
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, CoR President and Governor of the region of Central Macedonia, said:
Local and regional authorities are working hard to promote the growth of the EU organic sector, for example through land policies that encourage the creation of new organic farms or the conversion of existing farms to organic production, or by creating local markets that encourage consumer demand for locally produced organic food as well as by facilitating the supply of local, organic products for hospitals, schools and other public services. The Awards will make this work more visible and effective, spread the best experiences and help mobilise local communities to achieve a more sustainable, safe and resilient agri-food chain. We look forward to joining forces with the European Commission and all involved partners.
Christiane Lambert, Copa President said:
As European farmers, we are very happy to be part of the EU organic awards, helping to recognize and award the excellence in the sector. Acknowledging the hard work of our organic farmers, supporting their innovative spirit and their dedication is imperative for boosting organic production in Europe. These awards are a great opportunity to further valorise their work and aid the sharing of best practices across Europe.
IFOAM Organics Europe’s President, Jan Plagge, added:
I am thankful that the engagement of many working in the European organic movement will now have a chance to be visible and share their best practices across Europe! We wholeheartedly support this pan-European initiative and I am convinced it is an important step in the right direction. Now we need to make sure the rest of the European Organic Action Plan will be fully implemented so our sector and movement receive the right support to contribute to the Commission’s ambitious but achievable goals.
The overall aim of the Action Plan for the development of organic production is to boost substantially the production and consumption of organic products, and to enhance further the sustainability of organic production, in order to contribute to the achievement of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies' targets such as reducing the use of fertilisers, chemical pesticides and antimicrobials. The organic sector needs the right tools to grow, as laid out in the Action Plan. Structured around three axes - boosting consumption, increasing production, and further improving the sustainability of the sector -, 23 actions are put forward to ensure a balanced growth of the sector.
To boost consumption, the Action Plan includes actions such as informing and communicating about organic production, promoting the consumption of organic products, and stimulating a greater use of organics in public canteens through public procurement. Furthermore, to increase organic production, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will remain a key tool for supporting the conversion to organic farming. It will be complemented by, for instance, information events and networking for sharing best practices and certification for groups of farmers rather than for individuals and actions to strengthen the organic value chain. Finally, to improve the sustainability of organic farming, the Commission will dedicate at least 30% of the budget for research and innovation in the field of agriculture, forestry and rural areas to topics specific to or relevant for the organic sector.
EESC's EU Organic Awards page: https://www.eesc.europa.eu/en/initiatives/eu-organic-awards/about-eesc-organic-awards