What are European citizens’ expectations concerning their food in the future? To answer this question, the European Commission has commissioned an opinion poll, called Eurobarometer.

This report shows that the 3 main factors influencing Europeans’ food purchases are, in order, taste, food safety and cost.

Furthermore, they associate sustainable food and diet with the nutritional qualities of products and health rather than the environmental dimension. Nearly a quarter of consumers consider local and short supply chains as an important feature of sustainable food.

Moreover, healthy and sustainable food means variety and home cooking rather than less meat consumption for Europeans. For 58% of respondents, a healthy and sustainable diet involves eating a variety of different foods, having a balanced diet and eating more fruit and vegetables. 47% mentioned eating seasonal and local food and 43% chose eating more home-cooked meals. Only 35% of respondents chose to eat meat less often.

Finally, a large majority of consumers (89%) are in favour of clear labelling to help them make informed choices.

Euro Foie Gras is pleased to see that consumers favour taste, a diversified diet, local consumption and informative labels. Euro Foie Gras’ members work hard to produce quality food for the consumer. European foie gras production is extensive, open-air and often family-run. Producers are the custodians of a terroir and traditional know-how that is the pride of European gastronomy.

Find the full report and its summary here.

On 14th of October, the European Commission published an external report entitled “Future of EU livestock: how to contribute to a sustainable agricultural sector?”, written by Dr Jean-Louis Peyraud (INRAE) and Dr. Michael MacLeod (SRUC). This study contributes to the debate on the sustainability of the livestock sector. It outlines the importance of the livestock sector and the challenges it faces. Please find below a summary of this report:

Livestock farming is of crucial importance for many European regions, economically, socially and environmentally. In 2017, the value of livestock production and livestock products in the EU was equal to 170 billion euros, representing 40% of the total agricultural turnover. The EU-28 is a net exporter on the world market and the international trade surplus in livestock commodities has steadily increased since 2000, reaching 3.7 billion euros in 2019. Moreover, the sector employs around 4 million people. Poultry and pig farms are the largest farms in terms of the number of salaried positions.

A nuanced environmental impact

In 2017, the agricultural sector generated 10% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), less than industry (38%) or transport (21%). Globally, half of the agricultural land used for livestock consists of permanent grassland and marginal land that cannot be readily cultivated and are used exclusively by ruminants. Some temporary grassland could certainly be cultivated but that will lead to the loss of ecosystem services they provided.

A decrease in livestock farming in Europe would have negative environmental consequences

The idea of reducing the EU livestock production as a way of simultaneously tackling environmental and dietary issues is to be considered with caution. As a matter of fact, the global demand for livestock product is increasing and the European livestock sector is more efficient than in numerous other parts of the world. This idea may thus lead to net increases in environmental impact.

Furthermore, the net environmental impacts of reducing livestock in Europe could have negative impacts in terms of land use. Conversion of pastures to arable crops could lead to soil carbon losses and increased pesticides use, while conversion of pasture to woodland will provide benefits in terms of carbon storage, but may have negative impacts on, for example, rural vitality or wildfire risk.   

Challenges for the future

The sector faces certain challenges to ensure that Europe can meet its medium and long-term commitments. According to the report, several issues will have to be addressed in the future (2030-2050), among others:

  • Reduction of GHG emission (as agriculture and in particular livestock are partly responsible for this as they represent an important source of greenhouse gas)
  • Improvement of animal welfare
  • Improvement and enhancement of innovation in farming systems.

The Farm to Fork strategy has the potential to improve European agriculture. The main goal would be to reach a low carbon, resource efficient agri-food system that provides a wide range of environmental goods and services (such as healthy soils, biodiversity and an attractive landscape).

The study concludes that the debate about livestock should be broadened and moved away from simplistic plant vs animal or extensive vs intensive positions as livestock contributes to many of the sustainable development goals.

Consult the report

Diced duck breast on cereal crackers

Preparation time: 5 min

Cooking time: 16 min

For 4 people :

– 1 duck magret

– Cereal crackers

– Salt flower

– Espelette pepper

– Fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Take the duck magret out of the fridge.

Cut them in crosswise slits on the skin side.

Place the duck breast in a frying pan, skin side down, and brown it for 10 minutes on a low heat, discarding the fat several times.

When the skin is crispy, place it on a baking tray and leave to cook for 6 to 8 minutes in the oven.

Cut the duck breast into large cubes and place them on the crackers cut to the same size.

Salt, then add moderately the Espelette pepper and a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

Small pan-fried Foie Gras escalopes on candied apples

Preparation time: 10 min

Cooking time: 13 min

For 4 people :

– 4 small escalopes of raw Foie Gras

– 1 apple

– 15g of butter

– 1 tablespoon of oil

– Salt flower

– Ground pepper

– Fresh thyme

Cut the apple into quarters.

Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan over a low heat and then gently brown the apple quarters for 5 minutes per side. Deglaze with the cider vinegar, salt and pepper.

In the meantime, brown the Foie Gras escalopes in a second frying pan for 1 min 30 per side over medium heat without adding any fat. Season with salt and pepper and serve the escalopes immediately on the apple quarters.

Shredded duck in a pasta nest

Preparation time: 10 min

Cooking time: 10 min

For 4 people :

– 1 leg of duck confit

– 50 g of Alsatian nests

– Salt

– Ground pepper

– Spinach shoots

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Put the duck confit in the oven and leave to cook for 8 minutes.

Remove the skin then finely shred the flesh around the bones.

Lower the thermostat to 140°C then set the shredded meat aside in the oven.

In the meantime, cook the pasta for 5 minutes in a small pot of boiling salted water, keeping the shape of the nests.

Drain them then serve them on plates by adding a spoonful of shredded duck to the nests.

Pepper and decorate the plate with a few spinach shoots.

This recipe comes from the CIFOG, consult their website to find other ideas for dishes based on foie gras, magret and confit.

The EU Commission published a staff working document on the evaluation of marketing standards.

This document concludes that EU marketing standards have generally “been effective in achieving their intended objectives, without causing significant unintended/unexpected effects (…)”. Moreover, the document states that the cost of EU marketing standards are justifiable and proportionate to the benefits achieved, regardless of the sector.

The current EU marketing standards define raw foie gras as duck livers of at least 300gr and goose livers of at least 400gr. If this definition would be removed, the report highlights that “this would not guarantee the presence of hepatic fatty cellular hypertrophy, which is considered to be essential to the taste and quality of the product.” It adds that these minimum weights are the “only available means for the national competent authorities to control the product in a simple way.” Removing these weights criteria would thus mislead the consumer.

However, there is no definition for processed foie gras, which represents 80% of the foie gras sold. The problem is explained in the document: “A specific assessment revealed that the definition of ‘foie gras’ was perceived as having some limitations in preventing fraudulent practices, because there was no EU definition for processed foie gras (France is alone in having a national definition).”

Fraudulent practices are frequent, due to the luxury character of the product.

Therefore, in order to ensure the quality of foie gras and protect consumers, Euro Foie Gras calls for maintaining the definition of raw foie gras and adding the definition of processed foie gras.

Read the executive summary of the staff working document on the evaluation

Read our position paper on marketing standards for foie gras

Access our infographic

On the 26th of November at 12:00, the Spanish campaign #RealidadGanadera (the reality of livestock) will be launched. This campaign aims to inform the public about the social and economic value of the livestock sector in Spain, highlighted with scientific evidence. It will deconstruct preconceived ideas and fake news that can be read about livestock, one of the most demanding sectors in terms of animal welfare, environment, providing consumers with quality, healthy and safe products. Consumers need scientific, unbiased facts, which will be provided through this campaign.

A website, containing all the information on Spanish livestock, will be made available on the 26th of November:  www.realidadganadera.es.

The initiative has been created by a group of agri-food organisations including Interpalm, the Spanish Interprofessional Association of Fat Palmipeds, one of Euro Foie Gras’ members. This campaign is the Spanish version of the European #MeattheFacts campaign, launched last year by a consortium of European associations, including Euro Foie Gras.

Read more on the campaign (in Spanish)

Register here for the launch on 26/11

The Sauvenière farm, an artisanal farm nestled in the heart of the Walloon countryside, has opened its doors to Sophie Pécriaux and Eddy Fontaine, two Belgian PS MPs, to make them discover the foie gras production. The reality on the ground allows us to better understand a sector and to talk about it with full knowledge of the facts , explains Eddy Fontaine.

After seeing the ducklings, kept warm while their plumage is sufficiently plump to go outside, the MPs visited the outdoor areas. The ducks walk freely in the fields for up to 12 weeks. Valérie van Wynsberghe, who runs the family farm, explains that the welfare of the ducks is a priority: “If we want to have quality products, animals must be bred in good conditions, in a pleasant and healthy environment”.

The duck is then fattened for 12 days by trained professionals in a building close to the farm.

Eddy Fontaine stresses: “It is important to defend the sector. (…) A Walloon MP has a duty to defend all the sectors, as long as the standards are respected, which is obviously the case in Wallonia. »

The visit ended with a traditional convivial tasting of rillettes and foie gras, local and artisanal products that delight the taste buds.

Watch the CanalZ’s report on our visit and read the article in the Nouvelle Gazette.

Picture: on the left: Sophie Pécriaux and Eddy Fontaine; on the right: Valérie van Wynsberghe.

On 11 August, Interpalm, the Interprofessional Association of Fat Palmipeds in Spain, launched a contest for Spanish journalists and communicators. They are invited to write an article on the breeding of fat palmipeds and/or its products (foie gras, magret and confit), which will then be published in a Spanish newspaper.

The prize, worth of 1000 euros, was to be awarded to the winner during the 2nd edition of the Spanish Circle of Foie Gras Friends. However, due to the health measures related to the COVID-19 crisis, the ceremony has been postponed. The competition has therefore been extended until 31 December, giving you three more months to try your luck! Tell us about the breeding of foie gras ducks and its delicious by-products!

All the information can be found on the Interpalm website.

Heritage days are the ideal time to discover the cultural and gastronomic treasures of a country. Among the essential dishes of French cuisine, we can undoubtedly mention foie gras, as well as its by-products, magret and confit.  

For the first time, on the occasion of the Heritage Days in France on 19 and 20 September, around fifty farms in the main foie gras producing regions (Alsace, Brittany, New Aquitaine, Occitania and Pays de la Loire) will open their doors. You will thus be able to discover the production process of this delicacy and meet the breeders to learn more about fat palmipeds.   

Guided tours, tastings, cooking classes, catering… The activities will be numerous! Take advantage of this weekend to make a detour to a farm and, at the same time, to stock up on French local products.   

 Find all the information on the website: https://patrimoine-foiegras.fr/   

This is a message to Spanish journalists and other communicators! Interpalm, the Interprofessional Association of Fat Palmipeds in Spain, invites you, until September 30th, to publish an article on the foie gras sector or on derived duck products in a Spanish media.

A jury will select the winner based on the originality and creativity of the publication. The winner will win 1000 euros!

Take this opportunity to showcase your writing talent and your love for Spanish gastronomy. We look forward to reading your articles!

For more information, visit the Interpalm website: http://www.elfoiegras.es/primer-concurso-periodistico-foiegrasespanol/

Spain is the fourth largest producer of duck foie gras in Europe, with a production of 592 tons in 2019, and the third largest consumer in the world, with 80g per year and per capita. The production is mainly located in the regions of Castilla y León, Navarra, the Basque Country, Catalonia and Aragon.

The European Commission published the results of the external evaluation on food marketing standards in May 2020. This factual evaluation of current standards covered a wide range of products governed by the Common Market Organisation, including foie gras.

The document states that cases of fraudulent practices have significantly decreased since the introduction of the definition of raw foie gras with the obligation to place on the market duck livers of at least 300gr and goose livers of at least 400gr. This definition is moreover seen positively by several Member States.

Furthermore, the study indicates that abolishing the minimum liver weights “would not guarantee the presence of hepatic fatty cellular hypertrophy, which is considered to be essential to the taste and quality of the product”. The study also mentions Euro Foie Gras’ request to complete the current definition with a definition of processed foie gras, which represents 80% of foie gras products purchased by end consumers.

Attaching great importance to protecting consumers and ensuring that they make informed choices, Euro Foie Gras will continue to call for maintaining the definition of raw foie gras and adding the definition of processed foie gras. According to the action plan included in the “Farm to Fork” Strategy, the European Commission is expected to publish its proposal on the revision of food marketing standards in 2021 or 2022.

You can access the study here.

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