Understanding food value chains

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Herts researchers have been taking the lead in a four-year €6m multidisciplinary project to help policymakers improve food security in Europe and beyond.

The food value chain is the farm-to-table network of stakeholders involved in growing, processing, selling and consuming the food we eat.

Ensuring food safety and the sustainability of this complex supply chain is of increasing concern to governments, business and the public.

Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire with expertise in public policy and governance of the agri-food sector and the food supply are taking a lead in a four-year €6m multidisciplinary project to help policymakers improve food security in Europe and beyond and protect food producers and all those who work in the food system.

The VALUMICS project is looking at key food sectors including beef and dairy, farmed fish, cereals and oils. Flows of raw materials and finished goods are being mapped and modelled by researchers as they move through each stage of food supply chains.

Greener and fairer

The aim of the VALUMICS project is to enhance our understanding of food system network dynamics, by exploring how and why decisions are made in selected value, supply and decision chains, and to provide policymakers with tools and approaches they can use to evaluate the impact of strategic and operational policies. This will help them to identify policies and actions which will make food value chains greener and fairer.

Enhancing the resilience, integrity and sustainability of food value chains in European countries will help them withstand the challenges they face from climate change, depleted resources and population growth.

Hertfordshire is one of two UK universities in the VALUMICS consortium, which has a core of 19 European partners from 14 countries and two Asian partners, in China and Vietnam.  Led by Professor David Barling, Director of the University’s Centre for Agriculture, Food and Environmental Management, the University is heading up the consortium’s work on how policy and governance can support the project’s dynamic food system models.

Funded by Horizon 2020, the EU’s largest research and innovation programme, the research results will be relevant to policymakers as well as to the many food businesses across Europe which are regulated by their decisions.

David Barling headshot

David Barling

David is Director of the Centre for Agriculture, Food and Environmental Management at Herts. He is also the University Food Research Theme Champion.

His research focuses on food policy, food security and sustainability, and the governance of the agri-food sector.