Farming News - EU Commission consults on making food chain fairer

EU Commission consults on making food chain fairer

22 Aug 2017

Last week the European Commission launched an EU-wide public consultation on how to make the EU food supply chain fairer.

Farmers, citizens and other interested parties are being invited to share their views on the functioning of the food supply chain through an online consultation that runs until 17 November.

The consultation has been welcomed by farmers, who have complained of the low returns the they, as primary producers in Europe’s food supply chain, are receiving. Farm groups put their lower returns down to imbalances in bargaining power between farmers and other small businesses and their economically stronger big commercial players, like supermarkets and food processing giants.

In July, EU farm union Copa and Cogeca celebrated the Commission’ publication of an inception impact assessment looking at the functioning of the EU food system. The impact assessment set out objectives and policy options, mostly focusing on unfair trading practices.

Copa has highlighted that EU farmers only receive 8% of the price of a loaf of bread, and wants the Commission to act to improve farmers share by bolstering their position and tackling unfair practices.

Copa and Cogeca Secretary- General Pekka Pesonen said upon its release, “It is clear that voluntary initiatives don’t work. They failed to bring the necessary change in retailers’ behavior. We need legislation at EU level with independent enforcement by an authority to combat unfair practices and to apply significant sanctions to those that break EU law.”

Launching the latest consultation last week, EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said, "Farmers are the first link in the chain and without them, there would not be food to process, sell and consume. However, we notice that they often remain the weakest link. It is to address the shortcomings in the food supply chain that we are leading the way to act, in accordance with the Commission's longstanding position to stand by European farmers. I encourage all EU citizens, farmers, stakeholders to share their views with us through this online consultation.”

Hogan said the consultation draws on the work of the Agricultural Market Taskforce, which he set up in January this year.

The Commission is looking at possible measures to address or regulate unfair trading practices, and at improving transparency throughout the supply chain. The questionnaire is also deigned to gauge the level of interest in producer cooperation and the use of ‘value sharing agreements’ (which share out market bonuses and losses with changes in relevant market prices - these are already in use in some sectors such as sugar).

The Commission’s consultation survey can be accessed here.