Food chain needs stronger powers to protect producers – McGuinness

Legislation at EU level may be the way forward to combat market imbalances and producer powerlessness in the food chain, according to Mairead McGuinness (MEP).

The MEP for Midlands North West said that the ‘hands-off, softly-softly’ approach on the issue of market imbalances and producer powerlessness in the food chain needs to come to an end.

McGuinness said it should be replaced with a far more assertive system, most likely a legislative one.

“The EU is currently relying on the main players, the multiples and others, to do the right thing in terms of the treatment of suppliers, yet unfair commercial practices persist.”

McGuinness said this is reflected in the actions taken by the EU Commission to establish a Forum on the Food Supply chain, which has led to a voluntary code of conduct aimed at addressing problems in the chain.

“This development is welcome but weak because it relies on voluntary codes. In several member states legislation has been passed to address this issue, leading to unequal situations in the internal market.

“I believe that legislation at EU level would achieve a level playing field for all – farmers, processors, distributors, retailers and consumers – with clear rules around acceptable market behavior and unacceptable unfair commercial practices.

“That way the law applies equally across the EU and not just on a member state by member state basis.”