Food and drink industry

Food and drink industry

The food and drink industry is the EU's biggest manufacturing sector in terms of jobs and value added. It is also an asset in trade with non-EU countries. EU food legislation is highly harmonised and the sector benefits significantly from the opportunities offered to it by the Single Market. At the same time however, the sector faces challenges in international and European markets. The European Commission works to improve the competitiveness of the sector and the functioning of the Single Market. It also strives to create new trade opportunities for food and drink products.

Competitiveness of the European food industry

The EU food and drink industry is facing a decrease in competitiveness caused by a lack of transparency in the food supply chain, sub-optimal business-to-business relationships, a lack of attractiveness for skilled workers, and a lack of market integration across EU countries.

The European Commission:


Expo Milano 2015

The Universal Exhibition 2015 takes place in Milan. Its theme is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’. Food, sustainability and innovation will be at the heart of this major event. Twenty million visitors are expected to come to the event in person and 1 billion visitors are expected online.

The Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Enterprise and SMEs will be an important player due to the close link between its activities and the themes of the EXPO. It will organise initiatives on the agro-food industry, tourism, innovation, food fraud and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU pavilion.

EU at Expo Milano 2015

Official Expo 2015 website

Trade in processed agricultural products

The Commission manages the trade regime for processed agricultural products (PAPs) and works to improve the environment for trade in PAPS by encouraging tariff liberalisation, the standardisation of rules, and the mutual recognition of food legislation with non-EU countries.

Competitiveness studies

The Commission funds studies to help formulate policies that encourage the competitiveness of the food and drink industry in the EU.

Competitiveness studies

Legislation on PAPs

DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs is responsible for all legislation governing the trade regime for processed agricultural products.

Legislation on processed agricultural products

Other laws related to food