Efficient Resource Management: Interreg project FOODIS
Cross-border ecosystem for innovation and sustainability in the food sector value chains
A new, innovative EU project in the area of the food value chain has been launched at the end of 2023 in the field of marketing at the Department of Business at Paris Lodron University Salzburg (PLUS). The trans-national project will run for 26 months and aims to combat food waste and create added value for the region.
The starting point
In the EU, around 20% of food ends up in trash cans. Converted to people, this means 173 kg wasted per year. In Austria alone, 791,000 tons of avoidable food waste is generated every year, most of it in private households, out-of-home catering and production. In the state of Carinthia, 25 kilograms of food per person ends up in the trash every year. 27 percent of these are still usable fruits and vegetables.
This development must be counteracted. One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is to minimize food waste worldwide. By 2030, it should be halved in the retail and private household sectors. The Italy-Austria Interreg project initiated at the end of 2023 between Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Carinthia therefore aims to make the food systems of both regions more sustainable and resilient. For this purpose and in this cross-border cooperation project, Carinthia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia are pooling their knowledge in the areas of agriculture, IT, logistics, transformation and food security.
The cross-border project is coordinated by the lead partner, the Foundation and the Agrifood & Bioeconomy Cluster FVG. On the Austrian side, PLUS will work with LCAS, the Carinthian Competence Center for Logistics, and the Vienna University of Economics and Business as well as with the associated partners, the Carinthian state government and the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences on the implementation of the innovative food project. On the Italian side, the university health institute ASUGI and the country’s own IT group INSIEL, together with the associated partners, the University of Udine and the regional health directorate, will also be involved in the implementation of the project.
FOODIS objectives and pilot initiatives
The main objective of FOODIS is to create a collaborative, cross-border ecosystem to achieve the smart, sustainable and inclusive transition of food sector value chains. Through joint consulting services, skills and modern logistics structures, companies in the two regions are to be supported in operating across borders and thereby gaining access to new European markets. The planned ecosystem will be tested within the project through two pilot actions, one led and implemented by Carinthia and one by Friuli-Venezia Giulia, aimed at supporting sustainable and fairly traded supply chains.
The pilot project that the LCAS would like to implement as part of the Interreg project in Carinthia includes, in addition to the digital mapping of the Carinthian food value chain, the development of a digital platform that allows the collection of expired food and food waste that is not considered usable for the market Surpluses, collective transport and storage in the planned Alps Adriatic Food Hub in Fürnitz should be managed intelligently and sustainably. The platform is also intended to show ways in which goods can be upgraded in innovative ways and recycled to create new products. This is about promoting circular business models (e.g. converting fruit and vegetables into new food products such as fruit and vegetable juices or fruit or vegetable spreads). The aim of the project is also to advance the digitalization and optimization of food surplus management and its redistribution through the development of a modular and scalable digital platform.
A third of all food is thrown away on the way from the field to the plate. At the same time, millions of people around the world are suffering from hunger. It is therefore of inestimable importance, indeed necessity, to boost the circular economy in all areas and industries. Economy, innovation, sustainability and at the same time solidarity should be combined within the framework of efficient resource management. In the area of food supply chains, for example, this means that before food is thrown away, other, more sensible alternatives such as reuse and recycling should be explored.
The ultimate plan is to create a reproducible model of a common ecosystem at a cross-border level. The ecosystem is intended to provide support for companies in the food and logistics sectors by systematizing skills and services. For Carinthia, this means that the important regional food industry will gain more visibility and new sales opportunities can be created.
In addition to the lead partner, Foundation Agrifood & Bioeconomy FVG, which has a lot of experience in the field of food value chains and international funding projects, the following internationally known project partners are also on board:
- LCA Logistik Center Austria Süd GmbH
- ASUGI Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Giuliano Isontina
- PLUS Paris Lodron University of Salzburg
- WU Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien
- Insiel S.p.A.
- FH Salzburg GmbH / Department of Business & Tourism
- Carinthian state government
- University of Udine
- Regional health directorate (Udine)
The project is financed with EUR 900,000 from ERDF funds from the Interreg program Italy-Austria 2021-2027 and national funds and has a duration of 26 months.