The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is to launch a major programme of research into developing sustainable food supply chains - from primary producers to consumers.

The Budapest-based EIT, set up by the EU three years ago to improve the bloc's competitiveness through innovation, will organise the programme through a dedicated Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) called food4future. It will coordinate, advise and fund international research and development projects on the issue.

KICs are cross-border organisations set up by the EIT, linking academics and industry researchers. The KIC would be established 2014 and operate until 2020, drawing on an overall 2014-20 EIT budget of EUR2.8bn. Food companies wanting to participate could liaise with KIC administrators and explore research and development options. Companies can propose research topics for collaboration based on their own R&D priorities.

EU Education Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said: "We are… strengthening the innovation capacity of the EU."