Alcimed’s contribution to the “États généraux de l’alimentation” (French National Food conference)
Paris, November 6, 2017 – Faced with the profound changes in the agricultural world, the Government initiated the Etats Généraux de l’Alimentation (EGA, #egalim, https://www.egalimentation.gouv.fr) last June.
Organized around four main themes, the EGAs opened 14 workshops involving professionals, NGOs, experts… In parallel, a public and citizen consultation is also being set up, in order to multiply the number of proposals. A summary is to be completed by the end of 2017.
Alcimed contributed to two consultations, on the transformation of our agriculture and on ensuring the greatest number of people access to sufficient and healthy food.
On the first subject, Alcimed proposes more recognized production methods (labels, regulations) as well as conversion support units and an incentive tax system to support farmers.
Organic, biodynamic, agro-ecology and sustainable agriculture are new production methods, all oriented towards a better balance between profitability and respect for the environment. Consumer demand for products resulting from these practices is growing, with more than 20% growth in organic consumption between 2015 and 2016 and an increasing number of actors from multiple sectors interested in organic products (hospitals, retirement homes, restaurants, etc.). However, the development of these fields is not sufficient to meet this demand.
Alcimed has devised several levers to improve this development:
Today, only organic farming is regulated by regulations and labels. The recognition of a broader range of production methods, also based on regulations and labels (reasoned, biodynamic, etc.), should be able to meet all consumers’ aspirations, strengthen their choices and support demand.
In addition, to support farmers, the State could set up conversion aid units, supported for example by the Chambers of Agriculture. By using digital modelling or decision-making tools to simulate ROI over several years, these systems would provide farmers with visibility and reinforce the implementation of action plans for an efficient and profitable conversion. The visibility thus gained can be a lever to strengthen the involvement of financial institutions, whether private or public. BpiFrance’s involvement in innovative production methods could also be strengthened.
In addition, aid and/or a stronger tax incentive for conversion may be considered. Measures such as “seed funding” would make it possible to compensate for the loss of revenue observed during the first year of the conversion period, during which productions are sold in the conventional circuit.
On the second theme, Alcimed proposes to educate the consumer, to bring producers closer to consumers and to set up innovative aid and subsidy schemes for households.
First, it is essential to educate consumers.
Consumer education remains a key cornerstone in a strategy to disseminate good food practices. Indeed, by being aware of the nutritional advantages of the different products, and the benefits of a balanced diet, the consumers’ choices should be more easily oriented towards quality products.
This education must be further reinforced in schools, through self-service access programs at school, but also in companies.
The use of digital tools is also key. For example, the support of start-ups offering connected baskets, individualized both in terms of nutrition and financial support, is a promising approach.
In addition, it is essential to bring producers closer to consumers. The increase in the number of short circuit outlets, particularly in urban areas, is likely to increase access to quality food for a larger number of consumers. To this end, the State and local authorities could organise tax incentives for the use of market places or public buildings, or reduced taxes for organic supermarkets. This would have the dual advantage of increasing the number of points of sale and promoting more accessible prices for consumers. It is essential to think about this measure by targeting products from short circuits, but also offering quality guarantees, for the benefit of players committing themselves to controlled prices.
Finally, innovative support and subsidy schemes for households can be considered. The involvement of the State can be combined with social actions. A system similar to that of the “energy voucher” would make it possible, depending on income levels, to transform part of the aid and allowances paid into consumption vouchers or coupons. The latter would be especially focused on quality products, mainly fruit and vegetables, thus combining incentives for healthy eating and increased purchasing power in favor of these choices.