‘It is vital that we stand with the most vulnerable in the market’

The leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament, Sean Kelly MEP, has welcomed proposals from the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, on unfair trading practices by food buyers.

Speaking from Lyon today at a meeting of European People’s Party (EPP) leadership, the Ireland South MEP noted that the proposal is “timely and badly needed“.

“Today’s proposal is something that I have long called for. It will ensure fairness in the market and all along the food supply chain.

It will ensure that our farmers are protected against unfair practices by the likes of large supermarkets, wholesalers and production companies.

Unfair trading practices are considered to be business-to-business practices that deviate from good commercial conduct and are contrary to good faith and fair dealing.

Today’s proposal aims to ban late payments on perishable food products, last-minute order cancellations, unilateral or retroactive changes to contracts, and forcing suppliers to pay for unsold products.

Other practices will only be permitted if subject to a clear up-front agreement between the parties.

These practices include:
  • A buyer returning unsold food products to a supplier;
  • A buyer charging a supplier payment to secure or maintain a supply agreement on food products;
  • And a supplier paying for the promotion or the marketing of food products sold by the buyer.

Kelly described the proposal as crucial to ensuring a well-functioning food supply chain.

“It is important that we stand with those that are most vulnerable in the market and protect them from having their weaker bargaining positions being taken advantage of by big companies.

“The bans on these practices are important for our producers; but, I am also pleased with the emphasis that the commission has put on enforcement in its proposal,” he said.

Member states will need to designate a public authority to enforce the rules and to investigate unfair practices, either on its own initiative or following a complaint.

This is an important proposal for Irish farmers as it will put strict controls in place to ensure fairness and transparency.

“I look forward to the upcoming debates on this as the file progresses through parliament. This proposal is the first step; I will work with farmers to make any needed amendments to it in the coming months,” he concluded.