Policy interventions promoting sustainable food-and feed-systems: a Delphi study of legume production and consumption

Bálint Balázs*, Eszter Kelemen, Tiziana Centofanti, Marta W. Vasconcelos, Pietro P. M. Iannetta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The food-and feed-value systems in the European Union are not protein self-sufficient. Despite the potential of legume-supported production systems to reduce the externalities caused by current cultivation practices (excessive use of N fertilizer) and improve the sustainability of the arable cropping systems and the quality of human diets, sufficient production of high-protein legume grains in Europe has not been achieved due to multiple barriers. Identifying the barriers to the production and consumption of legumes is the first step in realizing new pathways towards more sustainable food systems of which legumes are integral part. In this study, we engage stakeholders and decision-makers in a structured communication process, the Delphi method, to identify policy interventions leveraging barriers that hinder the production and consumption of legumes in the EU. This study is one of a kind and uses a systematic method to reach a common understanding of the policy incoherencies across sectors. Through this method we identify policy interventions that may promote the production of legumes and the creation of legume-based products in the EU. Policies that encourage reduced use of inorganic N fertilizer represent an important step toward a shift in the increased cultivation of legumes. Relatedly, investment in R&D, extension services, and knowledge transfer is necessary to support a smooth transition from the heavy use of synthetic N fertilizer in conventional agriculture. These policy interventions are discussed within current EU and national plant-protein strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7597
Number of pages43
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2021


  • Sustainable food systems
  • Policy analysis
  • Legumes


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