This publication presents the best local food related practices across nine rural territories in Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland and Sweden. You will also learn 15 reasons for buying local food products – and help maintain hundreds of local jobs and the biggest European industry. The publication was produced in a transnational LEADER project “Local Food for Local Development” in 2013-14.
According to the Data and Trends of the European Food and Drink Industry 2012 the sector’s total turnover amounted 1,017 Billion Euros, giving it number one position among the European manufacturing industries. The industry’s share in the EU’s added value was 12 per cent, leaving e.g. automobile industry (11 %) and chemical industry (10 %) behind. Through the economic downturn years the food and drink sector has performed very well in sustaining its jobs, some 4.25 million all together.
So what’s the issue, one might ask. When it comes to investment in research and development, the sector’s expenditure is only 0.37 per cent of food and drink output. This is lower than other industries, but also lower than the food manufacturing sector in other developed countries outside Europe. Are we seeing food only as a necessity product, business as usual? Also the sector’s labor productivity is fairly low, just 7,500 Euros investment per employee compared to 14,000 in chemicals and 11,500 in automobile.
So we need a change! Not only to keep the sector competitive and rural territories viable but also to make our food-related ecological footprint smaller. This won’t happen overnight – it takes time to turn a big ship, but at the end of the day every captain must listen to consumer behavior. The change begins from our individual choices where ever we buy our food and drink. And like this publication shows, the right choices are not difficult to make: locally produced food simply tastes better!
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