The European food and drink sector recorded a €1017bn turnover for 2012 – up 6.8% from 2009 – with a growing trade balance of €13.2bn - the sum difference between exports and imports. These figures were cited in the FDE’s annual 2012 report, published online here.
“Against the difficult economic climate in the EU, and the corresponding uncertainty that this creates for consumers and businesses alike, our place as Europe’s leading manufacturing industry and a leading global good industry is impressive,” said Jesús Serafín Pérez, president of FDE.
Pérez said industry had continued to deliver safe, high quality and innovative products not only to Europe but to many other parts of the world in growing volumes.
“…But this is no reason to be complacent,” he said.
Global trade promises growth
According to FDE figures, food and drink exports for 2012 were worth €76.2bn – a 16.6% increase from 2010. However, global market share of EU exports was down to 16.5% from 20.5% in 2002.
There is increased competition from players in emerging markets that puts pressure on global market shares, Pérez said, and so industry must continue not only to create, but exploit growth opportunities.
To ensure this, he said market conditions must be favourable in guaranteeing greater possibilities for trade.
“In the absence of a multi-lateral trade agreement, comprehensive bi-lateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) continue to be the most feasible way in which to secure greater access to third markets for Europe’s food and drink products,” the FDE said in its annual report.
Science-based regulations and consumer trust
Along with a better trade environment, Pérez said regulations must be science-based to stimulate greater legal confidence.
The FDE said it had been active in working towards defining nanotechnology for food uses, establishing a procedure on novel foods applications and contribution to consultations on GMO-free labelling.
“Last but not least, we must do more to inspire consumer trust in our industry and create wider recognition of its important contribution to every part of the daily lives of citizens across the EU,” Pérez said.
Defending reputation has not been an easy task recently, he said, citing the fraud incident of horsemeat mislabelling.
“As a result, we must now redouble our efforts to work together to help restore confidence in our industry and in our safe, nutritious and high quality food and drink products,” he said.