Industry leaders attended the European Parliament this week to discuss issues in the European food supply chain.
Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for the South East, hosted the event and panellists included Christine Tacon, UK Groceries Code Adjudicator, Meurig Raymond, NFU President and Jan Verlaak, Economics Adviser at N-VA.
The meeting was held to encourage the European Commission to come forward with new proposals for greater oversight of the supply chain. At the moment, UK producers who sell to domestic retailers are protected to an extent by the GCA, but British farmers can still become victims of unfair trading practices when exporting their produce to the continent.
NFU President Mr Raymond said he thought the GCA was a ‘very good template’ for the EU to build upon and he is pleased the Slovakian Presidency of the EU Council is keen to clamp down on UTPs.
“The purpose of this is to give suppliers the confidence to highlight unfair trading practices in a confidential way. This confidentiality is crucial as submitting evidence on unfair trading practices can be very damaging for a supplier, if this information is in the public domain.”
But FoodDrinkEurope, a group representing Europe’s food and drink manufacturing industry, has poured cold water on the proposal, saying:
“Based on dialogue in the food chain, the Supply Chain Initiative (SCI), a joint voluntary initiative, is an appropriate tool to deal with Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs). It has been developed by and for companies of the whole food supply chain and encourages the resolution of disputes in a quick, efficient and less conflictual manner than court.
“Because they face very different national situations, Member States have developed different approaches to deal with UTPs. Against this background, EU legislation as a one-size-fits-all solution would not be an appropriate way forward.”