Sustainable food security - FAIRCHAIN



Innovative technological, organisational and social solutions for FAIRer dairy and fruit and vegetable value CHAINs – 20 project partners, located in 8 European countries - coordinator: Geneviève Gésan-Guiziou (INRAe) – 4-year project – start date: November 1st, 2020]

Project description

FAIRCHAIN addresses the growing need for a significant transformation of the current food systems by focusing on the development of competitive intermediate food chain alternatives adapted to small and mid-sized actors. A transformation of the current food system is a large and ambitious endeavour. Relying on the drawbacks and advantages of currently existing short and long value chains, FAIRCHAIN focuses on:

  • Fostering the emergence of innovative intermediate food value chains that support the scaling-up of the small and mid-sized actors facing the unsustainable conventional dominant agri-food system. The ‘scaling up’ is not limited to individual enterprises increasing their size (‘expansion’ of enterprises for those who want to grow and become bigger), but is also achieved through the coordination and connection of complementary small-scale and mid-sized initiatives to offer a large range and volume of products. Both options require the development of specific technological, organisational and social innovations as well as regulatory and policy adaptations to widely deliver food fairly and sustainably.
  • Inspiring and encouraging larger actors to down-scale conventional food value chains and better address the growing consumer demand to consume local high-quality and safe products. The underlying belief is that the emergence of the intermediate food value chains (involving small and mid-sized actors) puts pressure on the dominant actors, forcing them to move further and faster to align with best practices to offer opportunities to local suppliers. This should ensure equitable distribution of the costs and benefits of delivering more sustainable value-based food supply chains.


The main goal of FAIRCHAIN is to test, pilot and demonstrate recently developed technological, organisational and social innovations, realising a shift up to Technological Readiness Level (TRL) 7 and enabling the small and mid-sized farmers and food producers to scale-up and expand the production of affordable nutritious food through competitive intermediate food value chains.

FAIRCHAIN will address the dairy and fruit & vegetable (F&V) sectors, as both sectors hold a strategic economic position in the food sector in Europe. Both are prone to integrate a large variety of innovations, corresponding to increasing consumer demand in terms of nutritious and healthy food and the need to meet the challenge of sustainably delivering perishable commodities to the consumer.

FAIRCHAIN will consider the entire value chain. More focus is given to postharvest steps (e.g. processing and retailing/distributing steps) rather than the production step in itself (even if always taken into account)– because the power imbalances created in market relationships are mainly attributed to the increasing concentration in the processing and retail sectors in the conventional food supply chains.

Role of Ghent University

The Research unit VEG-i-TEC of Prof. Sampers is involved in:

  • Workpackage 2 (Ghent University is workpackage leader): Technological innovations: processing techniques and ICT
    The focus is on gaining knowledge on hygienic design; cleaning & disinfecting (the possible use of green disinfectants); aseptic processing; sustainable food packaging for small/mid-sized farmers.
  • Workpackage 3: Case studies implementation in real conditions, of which one case study is in the lead of Ghent University.

The research group Agro-food Marketing and Chain Management of Prof. Gellynck is involved in:

  • Workpackage 4: Integration of technological, organizational and social innovations into business models
  • Workpackage 5: Sustainable assessment of a new value chain, the performance of benchmark and KPI assessment
  • Workpackage 6: Development of business, policy and marketing recommendations to ensure replicability and uptake of the FAIRCHAIN innovative agri-food value chains.

Both research groups are also involved in training, dissemination, …




Prof. Imca Sampers
Department of Food Technology, Food safety and Health
Phone number: +32 56 32 20 10

Prof. Xavier Gellynck
Department of Agricultural Economics
Phone number: +32 9 264 59 23