The European Commission has adopted a communication encouraging Member States to look for ways to improve protection of small food producers and retailers against the unfair practices of their sometimes much stronger trading partners.
Commission Vice-President for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier said: "As consumers, we may all shop at our local retailers but the food supply chain clearly has a European single market dimension. There needs to be a level and fair playing field between SME food suppliers and retailers on one side and large multinational manufacturers and supermarkets on the other side. Unfair trading practices jeopardise this. The industry has already made important and valuable efforts to address unfair behaviour and should continue doing so. Member States should ensure that they have effective and consistent regulatory frameworks in place to build on and complement self-regulatory initiatives."
Before a food product reaches the consumer, many different market players (producers, processors, retailers, etc.) in the supply chain add to its quality and value. Due to developments such as increased market concentration, there are very different levels of bargaining power in the relations between the players in the supply chain. Whilst differences in bargaining powers are common and legitimate in commercial relationships, these imbalances can in some cases lead to unfair trading practices (UTPs).
Communication (provisional) [252 KB]