Jäätteenmäki: EU Commission should step up effort to weed out unfair practices in food trade

Photo: Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva


Anneli Jäätteenmäki (Centre), a Member of the European Parliament, says the European Commission is weighing up means to improve the position of producers in the food chain.

The European Commission last spring unveiled a legislative proposal to prohibit some of the most common unfair trade practices in the food chain. The proposal has already been discussed at both the European and the Finnish Parliament.

“Returning unsold products to the supplier and charging stocking and marketing fees would be prohibited unless an agreement has been made in advance. It would be prohibited to make consumers pay for the wood waste of retailers across Europe,” Jäätteenmäki, a former Prime Minister of Finland, writes in a blog on Puheenvuoro.

“The proposal would also ban payment periods of over a month for perishable products, last-minute cancellations of orders for perishable products and last-minute changes to supply agreements by the buyer,” she adds.

The European Commission also urges the member states to prohibit the practice of suppliers paying for the wastage of food products that “occurs on the buyer’s premises and that is not caused by the negligence or fault of the supplier” and to designate a public authority to enforce the prohibitions at the national level.

The Finnish government has stated that the proposal is a step in the right direction.

Jäätteenmäki believes the proposal should be amended to strengthen the position of food producers further by expanding the scope of the directive to also include medium-sized producers.

“That would improve the position of producers relative to retailers,” she argues.

“Because the trade is centralised, the producers have no bargaining power. The producers find themselves in a vicious circle. They are prisoners in a market where they have to be but that provides them with a constantly decreasing livelihood.”

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