CIAA urges effective food legislation

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Drink industry, European union

The food industry needs European policies that will make the
sector's own efforts more successful, said CIAA president Jean
Martin.

Speaking at the CIAA's European Parliament annual reception, Martin told members of the parliament, commission and council that in order to generate stronger growth, the industry must enhance research, development and innovation and find more growth outside the EU.

But better, more efficient regulations are needed to facilitate such growth.

"The food and drink industry is one of the most regulated sectors in Europe,"​ said Martin.

"We have identified opportunities for improvement, simplification, streamlining of legislation. We are also demonstrating that in some areas like nutrition labelling responsible self-regulation can work and work much faster than regulation."

The example of the novel foods approval procedure, said Martin, illustrates how burdensome procedures can be. He claims that it takes roughly 30 months to get approval for a new food in Europe while it takes three months in the US.

"Making legislation more conducive to food and drink industry investment and to its ability to innovate is, however, the shared responsibility of all EU Institutions,"​ he said.

"You will have the opportunity to introduce shorter, less burdensome procedures. You will have the possibility to make EU legislation clearer and easier to enforce for our companies."

Martin identified the freeing up of innovation as one of the key tasks of better regulation.

"Innovation is the lifeblood of our business: it allows us to respond to rapidly changing consumer needs,"​ he said. "Many of our companies, including SMEs, are very innovative and on the global stage many food and drink innovations come from Europe."

Comparative figures on R&D show, however, that EU food and drink industry expenditure on R&D is less than its main competitors (only 0.32 per cent of turnover compared to 0.40 in the US and 0.79 in Japan).

"We clearly have to spend more and better on R&D, ensure better dissemination of knowledge, notably among SMEs, support innovative approaches and discourage legislation that hampers innovation,"​ he said.

"With this in mind, the European Technology Platform Food for Life was launched under the auspices of CIAA last year with excellent support from DG Research. We are putting much effort into this initiative and have high expectations of it."

Access to competitive raw materials is another major topic. As a large user of EU agricultural raw materials and a substantial exporter of processed food, the food sector needs access to competitive agricultural products.

"Where reforms have not yet bridged price gaps, compensation mechanisms like export refunds are still key for the industrys capacity to compete on a level playing field with non-EU competitors,"​ he said.

Martin added that a successful multilateral and bilateral trade policy is essential to provide market opportunities in rapidly growing economies.

The food industry is Europe's largest manufacturing sector with more than €800 billion in sales. It represents 14 per cent of total EU manufacturing turnover and employs 4 million people.

Related topics: Market Trends

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