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Europe’s food industry ‘losing its competitive edge’

By Caroline Scott-Thomas+

24-Jan-2014
Last updated on 24-Jan-2014 at 12:59 GMT

Europe’s food industry ‘losing its competitive edge’

FoodDrinkEurope has published a report urging European institutions to develop a policy specifically tailored to the food industry – or risk losing out to non-EU manufacturers.

The trade association, which represents the interests of the food and drink industry in Europe, has already submitted a wish list of priorities for the Greek presidency of the Council of the European Union. And late last year, it also called on the European Commission to recognise the industry’s contribution to the European economy and develop specific policies to encourage its growth.

Now, it has released a Competitiveness Report for 2013-14 in which it aims to demonstrate the stability of the industry, as well as its efforts to compete on an international stage in terms of exports, R&D investment and productivity.

However, it says that an industry-specific policy is needed to improve its competitiveness and also calls for the establishment of a permanent High Level Forum to enforce this policy.

“Despite being a major contributor to Europe’s economy, key competitiveness indicators show that Europe’s food and drink sector is losing its competitive edge,” the report said.

In particular, it urges the removal of barriers to trade; a transition toward more sustainable food systems; a focus on skills to increase productivity; support for SMEs; and better promotion of science.

Commenting on the report’s release, FoodDrinkEurope president Jesús Serafín Pérez said: “The 2013-2014 FoodDrinkEurope Competitiveness Report demonstrates the continued strong economic performance of Europe’s food and drink manufacturers and highlights the key priority for the industry – namely the development and implementation of an EU industrial policy for food and drink.

“I trust that this report will feed into upcoming discussions at the European Council focusing on competitiveness. We are confident that EU leaders will acknowledge the importance of achieving Europe’s industrial competitiveness through such sectorial initiatives.”

The full report is available online here .

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