Comparative Socioeconomic Analysis of Cereal Processing Sectors in Wallonia (Belgium)

Alice Delcour, CRA-W
Florence Van Stappen, CRA-W
Astrid Loriers, CRA-W
Virginie Decruyenaere, CRA-W
Didier Stilmant, CRA-W
Philippe Burny, CRA-W
Fabienne Rabier, CRA-W
Jean-Pierre Goffart, CRA-W
Presented by: Michaƫl Mathot, Walloon Agricultural Research Centre

Roughly 60% of the arable land in Wallonia (southern Belgium) is dedicated to cereals (DGSIE, 2010). That shows the significance of the fate of those cereals in terms of processing within Belgium. In that context, the Alt-4-Cer project aims to ensure the sustainability of the cereal cultivation and processing industries and offer them future growth opportunities in the areas of Food, Feed, Fuel or Fiber. The approach consists in defining the parameters for the life cycle socioeconomic analyses methodology in the processing industry in order to apply it to other industries or other geographical scales. It involves, on the one hand, extracting socioeconomic data from farms’ and processors’ accounting databases pertaining to inputs and farm income (DAEA, 2010) and pertaining to the added value created by Wallonia’s processing enterprises (BCE, 2013). On the other hand, as regards qualitative data, it involves data directly collected from industry players working in production and in primary processing. Such data relate to the breakdown of working hours, workplace safety and local employment. Around forty conventional and organic farmers were thus surveyed, along with about twenty company managers. The quantitative and semi-quantitative data were then translated into various indicators which were combined in a Kiviat diagram (also called a radar or spider chart) to make them easy to understand for the stakeholders providing the data. In milling, for example, it was found that most of the workers were on permanent contracts and that company size did not prevent smaller firms from generating more added value than bigger firms, while practicing a policy of workers’ integration. With regard to safety at work, one of the hot spots listed in the Social Hotspots Database (SHDB, 2013), data were very difficult to obtain. The analysis was based primarily on the respondents’ subjective experiences, rather than on raw quantitative data. The project results will enable the parameters of a more detailed Socioeconomic Life Cycle Analysis to be defined, as well as providing tools for self-assessment and comparison of companies in the same sector. It will then be possible to answer the following questions: what are the socioeconomic impacts of developing one cereal processing application compared with another? What opportunities are there for developing added value for cereal processing in Wallonia? What is the socioeconomic profile of workers at these primary cereal processing enterprises in Wallonia?