Focus on competitiveness of EU food and beverage industry

Posted by James Ferre on 18th June 2008

The European Commission has created a high level group to address issues of competitiveness, innovation and safety in the food and beverage industries. The plan is to counter the current issues undermining the agro-food industry and generate a list of recommendations to improve competitiveness.

The Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the EU (CIAA) has welcomed the launch of the ‘High Level Group (HLG) on the Competitiveness of the Agro-Food Industry’ and believes it will lay the foundation for improved competitiveness, provide an opportunity to put essential food and drink industry requirements into the political limelight, and offer the potential to initiate a visible change. “This is a major opportunity for the food and drink industry and must be given the highest chance of success,” states Jean Martin, President of CIAA and member of the HLG. “A holistic and integrated food policy, that focuses on the needs and the role of the sector as a whole, is essential for the competitiveness of the industry.”

The food and drink industry’s overall objective is to provide consumers and society with a wide variety of safe, wholesome, nutritious, sustainable and affordable food and drink products. Requirements for the food and drink industry’s competitiveness include:

* EU policies that pursue the objective of a well-functioning Internal Market, while at the same time recognising that globalisation represents both a pressure on competitiveness and an opportunity for further development in the global markets on which EU food and drink companies operate.
* The ability to produce and market products without undue constraints; this is essential to achieve the industry’s overall objective. There are two ways of achieving sustained growth: by reaching out to rapidly expanding markets and by developing products with higher value, through research, development and innovation.
* A sufficiently flexibility and business-friendly framework in which to operate. Legislation is imperative in certain areas. However, alternatives to legislation can often provide equivalent or even more effective guidelines to market players and must be give due consideration.

The CIAA suggest that success of the HLG will depend on its ability to deliver a comprehensive and coherent set of actionable recommendations that can be swiftly implemented.