The food waste champion with a blind spot on regulation to prevent food waste
If this Swedish MEP is so worried about food waste, why is she supporting supermarket pressure to block legislation to address it?
Two years ago we wrote a blog about Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, a Swedish MEP. In many ways, she’s a food waste champion with great credentials – she runs a food waste campaign in Sweden and has contributed to a report on how more efficient food chains can help tackle waste.
But it seems her activism only goes so far – two years ago she was involved in an attept to block a European Parliament declaration calling for the kind of regulation that would really help to tackle food waste: laws preventing large food businesses like supermarkets from using their market power to force farmers to waste food, for example by cancelling their orders at the last minute when they decide they can’t sell it (Feedback’s investigations of these ‘unfair trading practices’ found they were rife in both national and international supply chains). You can find out about some of the ways Unfair Trading Practices both cause food waste and undermine efforts to reduce waste through industry voluntary agreements in the research of the EU project REFRESH.
Despite the best efforts of Corazza Bildt and some of her colleagues in the European People’s Party, the 2016 vote was a landslide, with MEPs calling for action on unfair practices: as we type a draft law to outlaw many of the unfair practices which can cause huge volumes of food waste is on the brink of gong through the final rounds of negotiation by European lawmakers.
But it seems Corazza Bildt and co are at it again – this time trying to delay the progress of the law, which could mean this law goes back on the shelf, especially with time tight before the next round of European Parliament elections.
This EU law has been welcome by food waste groups, farmers and those who are worried about unfair treatment of farmers in developing countries – the only groups resisting the law, unsurprisingly, are supermarkets and their backers in the European Parliament. We’re so close to real progress on regulating our food supply chain to protect the people who produce our food, it would be a catastrophe if momentum was undermined now.
Now’s the time for a final push to help this law over the finish line, and help farmers waste less food across Europe and beyond. We’re calling on all MEPs, including Anna Maria Corazza Bildt and her colleagues in the European People’s Party, to support this law.
You can read our article from back in 2016 below.
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.
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.
@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.