Hugo de Vries

The future Partnership Sustainable Food Systems (SFS); consequences for Food Science and Technology (FST) and vice versa

Hugo de Vries

INRAE, 2 Place Pierre Viala, 34060 Montpellier, France

The European candidate Partnership Sustainable Food Systems [1] focuses on the needed transition towards sustainable food systems (SFS) via system approaches [2]. However, this makes only sense if we understand what sustainable food systems are and how they function. Sustainability is defined as ‘whatever we do, we should not compromise future generations’ (Brundtland report, 1987). Hence, SFS are systems that have the capacity to endlessly evolve, continuously providing affordable, safe, healthy, delicious, functional foods for all people in their various cultural settings, and produced in an environmental-friendly manner. This is what the Partnership SFS strives for in all Europe regions, by changing the way (what) we eat, how we process and supply, how we connect ourselves to food systems, and how we govern them [1]. The implications for new developments in Food Science and Technology (FST) are numerous. First, these target an efficient usage and reusage of biomass in time (in our open thermodynamic planetary system fuelled by solar energy). Secondly, the handling of all diverse resources and food products respects both upper and lower limits for all environmental, social, economic and health indicators. Third, food process-structure-function relationships are considered in robust and performing food systems from a broader perspective. This includes playing fields (context), players (food actors), pieces (resources, products, waste, services), moves (food chain activities), rules (food laws, incentives…), duration (e.g. in terms of renewing resources) and outcomes (win/lose); i.e. the seven building blocks of a game [3]. Several case studies are presented that provide new research questions for the future Partnership and serve to exchange insights in FST with Central and Eastern European Countries.


[2] N. Halberg, & H. Westhoek European Union Publication. ISBN 978-92-76-08794-6. (2019).
[3] H. de Vries, M. Donner, & M. Axelos, Trends in Food Science and Technology, 123 (2022), 382-392

Hugo de Vries

Dr. Hugo de Vries is research director at INRAE, member of its Scientific Directory Team ‘Food, Nutrition and Bioeconomy’, France. He is President of the European Federation of Food Science and Technology, task leader in the SCAR Working Group on Sustainable Food Systems, member of the FAO-led International Sustainable Bioeconomy Working Group, and coordinator of the European Project ‘FOODPathS’ (Co-creating the Prototype ‘Sustainable FOOD Systems PArTnersHip’). He is associated international member of the French Academy of Agriculture. Previously he was heading the Joint Research Centre IATE (transformation of renewable resources into food, bio-energy and biomaterials), the Food Technology Research Centre of Wageningen UR, and the European Integrated Project NovelQ (novel processing methods for the production and distribution of high-quality and safe foods). He obtained a PhD in physics and held several positions around the globe.

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