Is a Food Waste Champion MEP really blocking legislation to prevent food waste in supply chains?

A public outcry sparked the European Parliament to look into investigating unfair trading practices by supermarkets, whose strong market power allows them to cause farmers to waste food. The European Parliament is debating the creation of an EU-coordinated network of national enforcement authorities to prevent unfair trading practices from occuring. Disappointingly, one European Parliament member – who is usually an ally in the fight against food waste – is blocking this much-needed legislation.

The European Parliament is drafting amendments to a report that could determine whether or not Europe will implement legislation to prevent unfair trading practices (UTPs). Previous drafts of the report have highlighted the clear correlation between unfair trading practices and the overproduction and food waste they cause. These previous drafts called for a European framework and effective legislation to prevent UTPs across Europe, acknowledging the inadequacy of voluntary frameworks like the Pan-European Supply Chain Initiative in effectively preventing these issues.

Over a million people have signed Feedback’s petition calling on national leaders to establish authorities to investigate supermarkets’ unfair treatment of suppliers to prevent good food from going to waste because of UTPs.

However, despite widespread support for such legislation, Swedish MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt is actively working to block such proposals in the final round of amendments. Corazza Bildt instead wants an industry-led Supply Chain Initiative as a means for preventing UTPs, despite its track record for being ineffective in addressing UTPs and the climate of fear suppliers currently operate under.

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Swedish MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt runs a food waste campaign called ‘Basta Till Matsvinnet’

Corazza Bildt continues to lead a personal campaign against food waste. The MEP was also a key contributor to a previous European report focused on developing strategies for a more efficient food chain in the EU in order to avoid food waste. Given this track record, her fight against this legislation is a disappointing departure from the her previous commitments. By blocking recommendations for crucial legislation that would contribute significantly to reducing food waste in Europe’s food chain, she betrays her legacy of incisive work on the intersection of food waste and public policy.

Feedback’s research in countries as diverse as Kenya, Guatemala and the UK has demonstrated how large amounts of food is wasted as a result of unfair trading practices by European retailers. Last minute order cancellations and retrospective amendments to supply agreements often leave farmers with no secondary markets on which to sell their produce. When this happens the farmers receive no compensation and are forced to dump their produce.

Preventative legislation against UTPs would protect suppliers, in particular farmers, who currently face uncertain and risky trading conditions in order to supply products to Europe’s major retailers. Under such legislation, European retailers would risk penalties and fines for malpractice towards their suppliers, as they do under legislation empowering the UK’s Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA). Crucially, the European legislation would create a level playing field across the single market to ensure that effective regulation is in place across European borders to protect suppliers and ultimately consumers as well.

Feedback are calling on Anna Maria Corazza Bildt to lead the European People’s Party in supporting legislative measures to prevent unfair trading practices in Europe by voting for an EU-coordinated network of national-level enforcers. Anna Maria Corazza Bildt has the opportunity on the 21st April to vote in favour of legislation and in doing so will be following a number of other cross-party MEPs.

To members of the European People’s Party: Preventing UTPs in Europe’s food supply chain is one of the most effective ways to curtail overproduction and the wastage of good food and finite agricultural resources. We call on you to take decisive action to support legislation to establish a EU-coordinated network of national-level enforcers to prevent unfair trading practices.

The vote on the 21st April is an opportunity for the European Parliament to stop the European Commission dragging its heels with regards to taking action against UTPs and food waste and Feedback look to the entire European Parliament to push for effective legislation.

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@European citizens: want to take action? Tweet this article at MEPs from #EPP (European People’s Party) and make them know that you want a fairer food supply chain.