Food Sustainability

Work Team


The Food Sustainability Observatory is a recent initiative of the School of Management del Politecnico di Milano. Launched in 2017, it is now in its third edition, as a result of years of extensive research on food waste and innovation for sustainability topics.
The Observatory aims to tangibly contribute to the sustainable transformation of the agri-food system through research, awareness development and dissemination activities centered on the role of innovation. It seeks to support companies in the shift from innovating products and often «isolated» technologies to systemic innovation of Business models and processes at individual company level and at system level, to create shared value along the supply chain and within the company.
In particular, the goal of the Observatory is to perform in-depth analyses and to promote and bring forth innovation and sustainability best practices, focused in particular on the circular economy paradigm in the agri-food field and new, more sustainable and comprehensive supply chain models that protect producers and benefit consumers, in close collaboration with agri-food companies, trade associations, non-profit organizations, startups, and public sector authorities.


The Observatory's planned actions for 2019-2020 are as follows:

  • Research Work:
    • Empirical Research (through sector player surveys, interviews and case studies, conducting census and mapping activities on innovative startups at national and international level, etc.), develop models to pursue sustainability goals and evaluate the resulting impact on agri-food supply chain players;
    • A Kick-off Workshop open to companies and other interested bodies, with the end purpose of identifying the main topics of interest and sharing additional thoughts and suggestions.
    • Four Workshops reserved for Observatory partners and sponsors, where the aim is to share the intermediate findings of the research and compare experiences and successful cases.
    • Socially impacting pilot projects with the goal of expanding on «vertical» Research topics of particular interest, test innovative models, new technologies and process changes, measure resulting economic and social impacts, in addition to creating strong territorial networks and lasting partnerships with businesses, social organizations, and public entities
    • A Booklet Report, which is a paper report containing the main findings of our research and will be distributed during the convention.
    • Vertical Reports published digitally, which cover the individual topics covered in depth.
  • Actions to disseminate and spread awareness about the research results:
    • A public conference to present the main findings of our research, with round table sessions and talks given by our partners, sponsors and other key players from the food sustainability world.
    • Webinars and MOOC targeted to sector operators, focused on carefully examining highly significant content within the Research course.
    • Participate in local public events of national and international relevance, to share the “vertical” results of our research, present cases of success and take part in round table discussions with the interested Observatory partners.
    • Spread research findings through the media (via, for example, newspaper articles and interviews on radio and television), to spread a culture of innovation for sustainable food, disseminating the outcomes of the research, sharing best practice in sustainable innovation and broadcasting awareness among companies, decision-makers and the general public.


Within the scope of our 2019-2020 research, the goal of the Observatory is to map and closely analyze innovative business model practices for a sustainable agrifood system, with particular focus on agrifood production and consumption focused on circular, “short”, more sustainable and comprehensive supply chain models. In particular, the Observatory intends to further explore the following areas :


    • Circular Supply Chains

The Observatory is focused on mapping and closely analysing innovative, circular-oriented business models. In particular:

    • Innovative preventive practices and solutions to manage food surpluses to reduce waste, enabling measures and barriers to their implementation, organizational structures and involved responsibilities;
    • New materials for use in food and more sustainable food packaging.


    • "Short" Supply Chains

The Observatory aims to map and analyse in depth "short" supply chain models and practices, that promote a more direct connection between producer and consumer and more fair distribution of the value generated along the food supply chain by leveraging geographic proximity, disintermediation, and enhanced computerization.


The research methods utilised include a methodical analysis of secondary sources (local and international press, sector-related websites and scientific literature); interviews and in-depth studies of interesting cases; surveys; workshops with partners and sponsors of the Observatory and other rilevant stakeholders; work carried out by start-ups operating in Artificial Intelligence (surveys and organised analyses of Italian and international start-ups); socially impacting experimental multidisciplinary projects involving public and private, profit and non-profit players.

Sponsorship opportunities

Every year more than 300 companies join the Digital Innovation Observatories activities, getting in touch with the corporate, institutional and academic decision makers

More Details

Partners and Sponsors

If you would like to find out more about getting involved, collaborating and/or supporting research by the Food Sustainability Observatory, please contact Giulia Bartezzaghi (giulia.bartezzaghi@osservatori.net).