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EP vote on Bové report misrepresents realities of food supply chain

Date

08 Sep 2010

Sections

Agriculture & Food

EuroCommerce and the commerce sector

EuroCommerce deplores misconceptions in report on food supply chain. 

EuroCommerce deeply regrets the European Parliament’s adoption in plenary of the report by MEP José Bové (Greens/EFA, France), on the food supply chain . “Although we see some improvements compared to the initial draft report, we regret that a number of misconceptions about the food supply chain – and retail in particular – remain”, said EuroCommerce Secretary General, Xavier Durieu.

“We are very unhappy that private label products are associated with ‘misuse’ in this report”, Durieu continued.  ”There is simply no evidence for this. Own brands offer consumers a wider range of goods and quality at affordable prices. And they help small suppliers break into national and international markets with innovative and sustainable local food products.”

EuroCommerce believes the report is inconsistent and draws an excessively negative picture of the retail sector. Although the Parliament acknowledged the complexity of the supply chain and the diversity of actors involved, MEPs insinuate that retailers are responsible for the difficulties that confront farmers. In doing this, they misunderstand how the supply chain functions. 

Xavier Durieu explained, “The report suggests that there are close links between farmers and retailers, which is not the case. Retail is only the last and most visible link in a long supply chain and only in few cases do retailers buy directly from farmers.”

In adopting the Bové report, Parliament makes numerous unrealistic proposals which are likely to increase bureaucracy and paperwork. The European food price monitoring tool, for example, is not useful as prices in member states depend on a number of factors which vary from country to country, e.g. taxes, labour costs and territorial supply constraints. Mandatory reporting on market shares by traders, processors, wholesalers and retailers, another proposal in the report, will not provide any meaningful information or added value.

EuroCommerce agrees that action should be taken against anticompetitive behaviour through a more consistent enforcement of competition rules in each member state. “Contrary to the European Parliament, we believe however that the current competition law is sufficient to tackle any abusive behaviour of actors in the food supply chain. There is no need for additional legislation. In any case, freedom of contract must prevail within the limits of competition law”, stressed Mr Durieu. 

EuroCommerce fully agrees that farmers, like all actors in the food supply chain, need security and should be able to depend on a stable adequate income. However, this would best be achieved through a restructuring of the agricultural sector and by fostering the development of cooperatives and producer organisations.

Xavier R. Durieu

Secretary General

T:+32 2 737 05 91

delberghe@eurocommerce.be 

EuroCommerce represents the retail, wholesale and international trade sectors in Europe. Its membership includes commerce federations and companies in 31 European countries. 

Commerce plays a unique role in the European economy, acting as the link between manufacturers and the nearly 500 million consumers across Europe over a billion times a day. It is a dynamic and labour-intensive sector, generating 11% of the EU’s GDP. One company out of three in Europe is active in the commerce sector. Over 95% of the 6 million companies in commerce are small and medium-sized enterprises. It also includes some of Europe’s most successful companies. The sector is a major source of employment creation: 31 million Europeans work in commerce, which is one of the few remaining job-creating activities in Europe. It also supports millions of dependent jobs throughout the supply chain from small local suppliers to international businesses.

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