Tag: unfair trading practices

The food waste champion with a blind spot on regulation to prevent food waste

22nd Oct 18 by fb_admin

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.

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.


@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.

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European Parliament calls for action to tackle unfair trading practices

8th Jun 16 by fb_admin

More protection for farmers urged as EU resolution calls for legislation to cut down on abuse of power within the food supply chain



Yesterday morning, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) sent a clear message to the EU Commission to take immediate action and enact  EU-wide legislation that protects farmers and food suppliers who are  mistreated by supermarkets’ unfair trading practices (“UTPs”).

The resolution (approved by 600 votes to 48) calls on the Commission to establish a network of enforcement authorities to address power imbalances in the food supply chain that generate increased risk and uncertainty for suppliers and can lead to overproduction and food waste.


Europe’s food supply chain suffers from endemic and persistent problems from UTPs, with suppliers subjected to a range of issues including delayed payments, sudden and unjustified order cancellations, forced involvement in promotions and imposed charges for fictitious services.



Feedback’s research in Kenya has shown how farmers who export their produce to Europe are forced into cycles of debt when orders are cancelled at the last minute or supply agreements are changed retrospectively. Farmers are often left with no market to sell their food to meaning they are not paid and end up wasting perfectly good produce.


The resolution comes after the Commission published a disappointing report earlier this year favouring voluntary agreements to prevent UTPs over legislative measures. In its report the Commission stated that the industry-led Supply Chain Initiative (SCI) was a sufficient measure to prevent UTPs.


The European Parliament have also criticised the Commission’s preference for the SCI, with MEPs agreeing that the voluntary initiative “cannot be used as an effective tool to combat UTPs” given that it lacks financial penalties and mechanisms to allow for confidential complaints to be made by suppliers. This issue is compounded by the fact that Tesco, despite being a member of the SCI, was recently found guilty by the UK’s Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) of using unfair trading practices against suppliers and producers in an attempt to overstake its profit margins.


Suppliers currently operate in a ‘climate of fear’, too scared to speak out about against unfair trading practices, and require anonymous complaint systems such as the UK’s GCA in order to speak freely. However, the GCA currently only regulates the relationship between retailers and their direct suppliers, meaning that many suppliers are left without protection. The European Parliament recommend that the GCA should be used as a model enforcer against UTPs, but goes further by recognising that UTPs can occur across the supply chain irrespective of geographical location.


Voluntary initiatives such as the SCI and the Supermarkets Code of Practice that preceded the GCA are structurally unsuitable for preventing unfair trading practices. Legislation is necessary to effectively deter retailers from using these practices and to effectively change the behaviour or purchasers within these companies. There is clear public support for this, as a petition started by Feedback calling on national leaders to establish authorities to investigate supermarkets’ unfair treatment of suppliers received over one million signatures last year.


“Unfair trading practices exist because they are profitable in the short-term for retailers, yet in the long run they threaten the sustainability of our food system by placing additional pressures on increasingly squeezed suppliers,” said Edd Colbert, Campaign and Research Manager for Feedback, “the call for EU-wide protection against unfair trading practices is a significant step forward in the fight against food waste and Feedback join the European Parliament in demanding that the Commission takes action urgently”


Feedback have been working with allies in the European food movement to make sure unfair trading practices are recognised as a major contributor to food waste in the supply chain. As an organisation we have engaged with key policy makers in the Commission and Parliament to put this issue on their agenda to create a fairer food system for all. Read more about Feedback’s Stop Dumping campaign that aims to stop unfair trading practices that lead to good food being wasted here.

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Tesco changes rules on Kenyan green beans to cut food waste

21st Apr 16 by Feedback Team

Campaigning win as Tesco improves wasteful process of 'top and tailing' green beans

After years of public campaigning and direct challenges to its practices, Tesco has announced changes to its rules on Kenyan green beans. From now on, they will stop forcing their suppliers to “top and tail” their produce. Tesco estimates that this change will save more than 135 tonnes of food waste per year. Feedback had uncovered this wasteful practice through its investigations in Kenya in 2013, the findings of which we outlined in a report that we published in 2015. Since our inception, Feedback has publicly campaigned against cosmetic specifications for produce that outgrade outrageously high percentages of nutritious crops. Tesco was no exception, and we directly challenged them to stop their wasteful “topping and tailing” practice.

In the fight to relax cosmetic standards, green beans have been a particularly potent symbol of these standards’ causal link to food waste. Supermarkets like Tesco mandated that suppliers “top and tail” their produce — the idea being to make sure all green beans were the exact same length. Unfortunately, that’s not the way green beans grow, and topping and tailing led to an estimated 30% of the crop being lost before it even arrived in the aisles of British supermarkets.

In 2014, our public campaigning led Tesco to make a change to this system, trimming only one side of the green beans. This change alone saved one supplier whom we interviewed 1/3 of her harvest. We continued working directly with Kenyan farmers over the next two years. We found that cosmetic specifications were often used by retailers and importers as a front for cancelling orders at the last minute, that over 30% of food was being rejected at farm-level, and that exporters reported nearly 50% of produce is rejected before being exported. Our work in Peru has shown similar shocking levels of supply-chain waste driven by importers and retailers’ buying practices.

After years of publicly campaigning on this issue as well as directly challenging Tesco to make this change, we celebrate Tesco’s recent buying policy change as a victory for Kenyan farmers, British consumers, and the environment. Come this May, we host major Feeding the 5000 events in New York City and Washington D.C., where we will be asking US supermarkets to follow Tesco’s lead on this issue. The goal is for retailers to relax cosmetic standards dramatically and use farms’ whole crop. Tesco says it will begin doing this: If there is a surplus, we will work with suppliers to find an outlet – for example, by connecting our growers with our fresh and frozen suppliers for it to be used in foods such as ready meals,” said Tesco Commercial Director for Fresh Food Matt Simister. This should be the norm across all retailer-supplier relationships.

We want all retailers around the world to make simple changes like this to create a more sustainable food system. At the same time, we continue fighting for more just and less wasteful supply chains worldwide. Green beans are just a start.

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