Over recent years, there has been a shift in bargaining power in the food supply chain, mostly to the advantage of the retail sector and some transnational companies and to the detriment of suppliers, in particular primary producers. The concentration of bargaining power has led to the abuse of positions of dominance causing weaker operators to become increasingly vulnerable to Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs). The opinion takes stock of the impact of UTPs, stresses the difficult position of the most vulnerable actors along the chain and calls for action at EU level to stop UTPs and promote a fairer food supply chain.
European industry needs an environment conducive to innovative activity. We must strengthen investment in innovation and foster business dynamism. Investment is needed not only in scientific R&D but also in areas that are becoming key features of corporate success, such as design, software, data, firm-specific skills and marketing. These are some of the ideas that emerged from the conference on the Reindustrialisation of Europe: Food Manufacturing, Innovation and Circular Economy, which took place on 27 October in Milan. The event was hosted by the Employers' Group, together with Coldiretti and Confindustria.
EESC also pushing to extend protection to all operators
Unfair trading practices (UTPs) result in negative economic, social and environmental effects. The food supply chain is particularly vulnerable to UTPs, due to severe imbalances of power between small and large operators. The European Commission has recognised this problem, and the EESC appreciates the Commission's proposal for a directive on unfair trade practices in the food supply chain as a necessary first step; however, it regrets that it does not go far enough.
Food plays a central role in people's lives and diets must be tackled from a nutritional and health point of view as well as from an environmental, economic, social and cultural angle. To facilitate such a comprehensive approach, the EESC calls for the introduction of new Sustainable Dietary Guidelines in its own-initiative opinion on "Promoting healthy and sustainable diets in the EU".
In times where the impact of climate change can already be felt in agriculture, it is very likely that environmental degradation will also put pressure on our food system.
The European Union has already realised this challenge and has come up with proposals to meet these challenges on time. Food 2030 and Food 2050 are key proposals for what needs to be done in the next legislature 2019-2014.
EESC initiates discussion on food sustainability
The situation is troubling. The global population is projected to reach a staggering 9.6 billion by 2050, according to the UN. But the global food production system is struggling to feed the current population of up to 7.5 billion, with output only marginally exceeding consumption.