Fairer trading practices, food integrity and sustainability collaborations: Policies, regulations and governance
The report provides a framework that categorises the different European Union (EU) policies, laws and governance actions identified as impacting upon food value chains in the defined areas of: fairer trading practices, food integrity (food safety and authenticity), and sustainability collaborations along food value chains.
A four-stage framework is presented and illustrated with examples. The evidence shows that European Union policy activity impacting upon food value chain dynamics is increasing, both in terms of the impacts of policies upon the chains, and, in terms of addressing some of the more contentious outcomes of these dynamics. A number of policy priorities are at play in addressing the outcomes of food value chain dynamics. unevenness of the distribution of profit within food value chains, notably to farmers.
Regulation of food safety and aspects of authenticity has been a key focus for two decades to ensure a functioning single market while ensuring consumer health and wellbeing. A food chain length perspective has been attempted, notably through regulations such as the General Food Law, and the rationalisation of the Official Controls on food and feed safety. However, there are still gaps in the effective monitoring and transparency of food safety and of food integrity along value chains, as exemplified by misleading claims and criminal fraud. This has led to renewed policy actions over food fraud, in particular. EU regulations, policies and related governance initiatives provide an important framework for national-level actions for EU member states and for EEA members. The more tightly EU-regulated areas, such as food safety, see fewer extra initiatives, but where there is a more general strategic policy and governance push, such as food waste reduction or food fraud, there is greater independent state-level activity. Likewise, there is much more variation in the application of both national and European (Competition) law to govern unfair trading practices impacting upon food value chains.
This report presents the findings of a survey of members from the VALUMICS stakeholder platform, that were policy facing food value chain stakeholders across selected European countries, including both EU and EEA Member States. The survey was conducted to check the significance of the main policies identified in the mapping exercise at EU and national levels and so to incorporate the views of stakeholders in the research. The responses suggest the policy concerns identified in EU and national-level research resonate with food value chain stakeholders in participating nations.
The report concludes by exploring in more detail how the themes of fairness and of transparency are being handled in the policy activities presented. Highlighted are the ways that both fairness and transparency can be extended within the existing frameworks of EU policy activity. The findings in this report provide an important context for further and detailed research analysis of the workings and dynamics of European food value chains under the VALUMICS project.