This review of over 50 European and global studies into food systems challenges and solutions assesses the merits of a systems-based approach across the combined domains of agriculture, fisheries, food, environment, nutrition and health. Such a systems approach contributes to better understand the interdependencies between key parts of food systems at various scales. It helps to avoid the risks of
overlooking trade-offs and possible synergies. A number of EU-funded research projects already reveal the added value (and challenges) of such multidisciplinary food systems studies. At the same time, the review illustrates that the literature on food systems solutions is in its early stages and often lacks a practitioner’s perspective. More research into breakthrough innovations in food systems, such as low-cost packaging or the emergence of flexitarian diets, is needed, as well as experimentation on systemic solutions. Several guiding principles are proposed to inform policy development for research & innovation using a food systems approach.