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Demographic changes, urbanization, increasingly extended and globally interconnected markets, optimization of logistics and changes in food habits and food preferences are the basis of an important process of cultural contamination of food traditions and a strong pressure on the agri-food system.

Understanding dynamics and trends that guide changes in the structure and composition of agricultural trade and along the supply chain is fundamental to analyze the effects that the agri-food sector has on climate change, on global agricultural markets and the in links between food trade and food security.

The Food Impacts Initiative (F2I) project is committed to develop tools that in the short term can let emerge the numbers of these markets and suggest strategies to  stakeholders to balance markets and environmental and social impact.
In F2I food is first approached as an energy product, where production and exchange become variables of (circular) economy models.

The main objective is contained in a key question: which technologies and best practices support global and sustainable food markets? In the first phase of the project two aspects will be explored: food trade optimization and new local production technologies.

Future of food trading

Through machine learning models, F2I researchers developed the Trade Impact Index (TII), a market index which measures the distance that an imported product travels in order to reach each Country, in a particular time of the year.

Various dissemination activities are connected to the TII, with the goal to raise consumer awareness on the impact of their food choices.

Future of food production

An alternative to reducing food trade is the reduction of distances between production and consumption – the idea behind modern models of sustainable and decentralised agricultural production.

The challenges to achieving sustainable agriculture models and sustainable access to food thanks to existing technologies (including precision agriculture and novel food) require a relatively long time to be analysed and verified; a possible path, not in contrast to the system but for its benefit, can be observed in CEA (Controlled Environments Agriculture).

Energy systems, methodologies and technologies adopted for vertical farming production will be tested and analysed in collaboration with academic partnerships.

To underline opportunities and challenges faced by indoor farming and vertical farming systems, FEEM has installed a hydroponic greenhouse in its headquarters in Palazzo Delle Stelline named Food Sense. The greenhouse has demonstrative and didactic purposes and aims to convey the objectives of these production systems in terms of achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, going beyond the Objective 2, Zero hunger.

The Food Sense greenhouse can also be visited during a virtual tour on the dedicated website http://www.foodsense-feem.com/

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