Agriculture will play a very important role in fostering this transition towards greater sustainability, both because it is a relevant activity in the socio-economic systems, especially in developing and emerging countries, and it is often a direct cause of negative effects on the ecosystem (externalities), such as the greenhouse effect, water pollution, and soil deterioration.
According to Eurostat, the agricultural sector contributed EUR 176.4 billion towards the EU’s overall GDP in 2019 (1.3 % to the EU’s GDP). The gross value added by the EU’s agricultural industry (AI) was an estimated EUR 181.5 billion in 2019. About one-half (52.8 %) of the value of the total output of the EU’s agricultural industry in 2019 came from crops (EUR 220.5 billion), within which vegetables and horticultural plants and cereals were the most valuable crops.
Today there is a considerable emphasis on the recovery, recycling, and upgrading of wastes. This is particularly relevant for the fruit and vegetable wastes (FVWs) representing a very important category of biomasses because they are produced in considerable quantities at the end of all agricultural, supermarket, and wholesale market activities. According to FAO, the waste generated by the fruit and vegetable sector is estimated up to 60% of the food waste generated yearly in the world. EU policy aims to limit organic waste landfilling and fruit and vegetable residues have a significant potential for recycling as raw materials for other industries or for conversion into useful products of higher value (e.g. bio-product).