The study provides an assessment of the competitive position of the European food and drink industry, benchmarking the European industry against its main trading partners: the USA, Australia, Brazil and Canada, for two periods: 2003-2007 and 2008-2012.
The study finds that the EU food and drink industry achieved a more competitive position vis-à-vis the main trading partners on the international trade-related indicators. Meanwhile, the competitive performance measured by economic indicators weakened.
Harmonisation of key legislation under the General Food Law, and food safety regulation were identified as the main European regulations with a positive impact on the sector's competitiveness. As the main barriers to competitiveness, the inconsistent implementation of European regulations among EU Member States, leading to trade barriers for the Internal Market, was identified.
Policy recommendations offered by the study include maintaining regulation supporting food quality and food safety, while addressing any remaining differences observed in the way Member States apply rules. For the industry, expansion of cooperation aimed for instance at the re-use of by-products and waste that might be transformed into fine-chemicals and natural macromolecules for the pharmaceutical or chemical industry should be explored.