Worldwide, consumer demand for food quality and distinctiveness is growing, as well as concern over issues related to food authenticity, geographic origin, health and nutrition and sustainable production. The use of standards and certifications can act as a warranty of quality to gain the trust and confidence of consumers. Indeed, food products have to respond to current ethical, environmental and socially sustainable claims. This is particularly critical in the Mediterranean region, where several unique and traditional food products of an exceptional quality play a fundamental role in local socioeconomic activity and in the conservation of cultural and natural heritage. The latter is under threat from the cumulative impacts of land use and climate change affecting the Mediterranean Basin.
REALMed is a project that aims to add value to Mediterranean food products by providing means to assure authenticity and quality. The project is focused on high premium products typical of the national identities involved in the project - Moroccan argan oil, Portuguese and Spanish meat products from Iberian black pigs, Italian and Slovenian truffles and Tunisian lamb. With such a selection of products we will achieve, through a comprehensive set of activities, including national and international benchmarking, an assessment and analysis of national capacity needs, as well as opportunities for value chain improvements. Analytical techniques that show great potential for determining geographic origin (stable isotope ratios and elemental profiles) and authenticity (molecular characterization) will be combined. The data generated will be used to create database, spatial-temporal models and ‘authenticity’ maps available for control authorities as well as for stakeholders. These ‘user friendly’ information tools will be a scientific basis for a Mediterranean Identity Label of the selected products, transferable to other foods of the Mediterranean area and elsewhere. Coordinating individual countries efforts to recognise, certify and defend local products will ensure competitiveness, sustainability and help implement prevention measures against fraudulent food practices.
The REALMed project will also reduce the disparities in food traceability, quality and safety assessment methods that exist amongst the Mediterranean regions through knowledge and technological transfer between partners and regions. Establishing a sustainable cooperation platform of experts in food traceability, authenticity and having a balanced partner structure and early stakeholder involvement at all stages will ensure the success of the project. The expert platform will remain operational after the project’s closure and will continue to collaborate with producers and policy and decision makers.
ARIMNet2 (2014-2017), an ERA-NET coordinated by INRA (France) and funded under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no. 618127.
Fundação da Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa (PT); Jožef Stefan Institute (SI); Centre National De L'énergie, Des Sciences Et Techniques Nucleaires (MA); University of Barcelona (ES); Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e Veterinária (PT); Fondazione Edmund Mach (IT); The Institute of Agro-environmental and Forest Biology (IT); Oleo Capris (SI); Science and Research Centre, University of Primorska (SI) and Institut National de Recherche Agronomique de Tunisie (TN).