Fairer food-chain laws progress further in Brussels

Political agreement on a new set of rules on unfair trading practices in the food-supply chain has been ratified by the European Council this week.

The European Commission’s proposals for a fairer food chain were endorsed by member states at the special committee on agriculture meeting in Brussels last Monday (January 14).

The European Parliament will vote on the political deal – which was agreed last month – in March.

The new EU law will cover agricultural and food products traded in the food-supply chain, banning for the first time up to 16 unfair trading practices imposed unilaterally by one trading partner on another.

Other practices will only be permitted if subject to a clear and unambiguous upfront agreement between the parties involved.

Commissioner Hogan welcome the progress on his Twitter page:

The commission had tabled its legislative proposal in April 2018 to ensure more fairness in the food chain and provide a minimum protection across the EU.

This is the first time that EU level legislation will be implemented in this area. The new framework grants member states the authority to enforce the new rules and impose sanctions in case of established infringements.

Big operators

Attending the final negotiating meeting with parliament and council representatives, Commissioner Hogan said: “The agreement paves the way for a first-time EU law which provides significant protection for all EU farmers, their organisations as well as small and mid-range businesses.

They will now be protected against all bigger operators acting unfairly and outside the rules.

“The agreement reached will apply to anyone involved in the food supply chain with a turnover of €350 million with differentiated levels of protection provided below that threshold.

“The new rules will cover retailers, food processors, wholesalers, cooperatives or producers’ organisations, or a single producer who would be engaging in any of the unfair trade practices identified,” he said.

The unfair trading practices to be banned include: late payments for perishable food products; last minute order cancellations; unilateral or retroactive changes to contracts; forcing the supplier to pay for wasted products; and refusing written contracts.

Other practices will only be permitted if subject to a clear and unambiguous upfront agreement between the parties: 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; a supplier paying for a buyer’s promotion, advertising or marketing campaign.