UECBV, the European Livestock and Meat Trades Union The European Livestock and Meat Trades Union (UECBV), is the EU voice of national federations representing livestock markets, livestock traders (cattle, horses, sheep, pigs), meat traders (beef, horsemeat, sheepmeat, pigmeat), and meat industry (slaughterhouses, cutting plants and meat preparation plants). In total, some 20,000 firms of all sizes and 230,000 jobs are represented within the UECBV through its national member federations.
UECBV believes in a healthy and competitive European livestock and meat sector and the need for a transparent market and, therefore, supports Commission initiatives, such as EU Market Observatories. UECBV is, however, deeply concerned about the potential effects of the Commission’s proposed market transparency initiative. While UECBV is generally in favour of increased transparency in the form of improved existing data, it believes that the EU meat market is already very transparent.
Since the launch of the Meat Market Observatory (MMO), market transparency of the EU meat sector has already improved. However, market transparency in the scope of the new initiative by the Commission would undermine trade and commercial confidentiality that should not be made publicly transparent in order to maintain competition between companies, competitors and customers.
UECBV believes that the level and frequency of price data reporting proposed by the Commission lead to coordination between competitors and price-fixing which will, in the end, harm the food chain.
Furthermore, excessive price transparency can reduce operators’ negotiating capacity and, thus, restrict competition and undermine overall returns from the marketplace.
In addition, due to the lack of harmonised product description, market information can be misinterpreted and contribute to a distorted picture of the supply chain as scientific research clearly demonstrate as shown last 2018 which was send to the Commission in the context of our Position Paper.
Broadening market transparency beyond the level already achieved poses not only the threat of unintended consequences, but, in practice, might also be very hard to achieve due to confidentiality issues.
In the livestock and meat sector, products and cut specifications are vast in number, complex and very difficult, if not impossible, to compare between Member States.
For years, prices for beef, lamb and pork carcasses have been collected and reported on the basis of EU carcass classification schemes. However, these prices are not easily comparable and only indicate trends because many other parameters that influenced them are not EU harmonised.
Therefore, in terms of market transparency, the priority should be the improvement of these prices instead of adding further confusion.
In UECBV’s opinion, the objectives should be first to make the best possible use of existing data from public and private sources; this may also be more cost-effective, even if Commission services purchase data. Second focus on the quality of the collection and reporting of prices paid to the producers, mainly in terms of comparison.
Third improve data on EU figures a) intra-trade figures, b) on Production and c) Consumption. Fourth proposal of improvement is to adapt the ambition for downstream prices to the limits that are described by the UECBV concerns. This ambition should also comply with the outcomes of a cost/benefit analysis. For instance, as a preliminary step, UECBV would like to propose to the Commission Services an annual Market Transparency update, the selection of a small number of reference cuts, the publication of price index at EU level.
Finally, regarding the Organic meat price premium (mainly for the beef sector), UECBV suggests looking for an organic price when collecting carcass price data.
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