(Brussels, 5 December) FoodDrinkEurope today launched its Competitiveness Report 2012, calling on policymakers in the EU help bring about the reality of an EU Industrial Policy for food, to benefit consumers and actors along the food supply chain.
Measuring the industry’s competitiveness and trends in the economic performance of the EU food and drink industry, the Report shows that Europe’s largest manufacturing sector both in terms of turnover (€956 billion) and employment (generating 4.1 million jobs) remains a non- cyclical, robust manufacturing sector and a real pillar of the EU economy. The industry has sustained levels of positive growth in the EU economy outperforming the vast majority of other EU manufacturing sectors since the peak of the downturn in 2008, both in terms of production and employment.
However, despite the industry showing positive signs in production volumes, R&D investment, export market shares and labour productivity, an assessment of the industry performance in terms of worldwide competitiveness shows it is lagging behind its main international competitors, both in mature and emerging markets.
The Report details a combination of factors which have resulted in this stagnating competitive position vis-à-vis global counterparts including, most notably the lack of an EU Industrial Policy for the food sector; the absence of a true Single Market for food and the need for a better functioning food supply chain.
To build on the essential work already undertaken to date within the High Level Forum for a better functioning food supply chain, food and drink manufacturers have highlighted the mandate of the High Level Forum – to develop an EU Industrial Policy for food as key to supporting the future competitiveness of the sector. In the Report, manufacturers have called for the development and implementation of an EU Industrial Policy for food to support the competitiveness of the industry both on the Single Market (internal competitiveness) and globally (external competitiveness). Food operators urge EU decision-makers to take necessary action with an EU Industrial Policy for food to provide:
• Completion of a Single Market for food bringing greater legal certainty and consistency for operators across the EU market; including a better functioning food supply chain in terms of fairer B2B relations along the supply chain, better access to finance , and the elimination of existing bottlenecks to R&D;
• Securing better market access opportunities for EU food and drink products, especially in emerging countries.
Speaking following the publication of the report and its presentation today at the High Level Forum third annual meeting, Jesús Serafín Pérez, President of FoodDrinkEurope, said:
“The industry’s ability to grow sustainably and cater for the ever-evolving needs of Europe’s over 500 million consumers is crucial not only for European food security but also for the long-term viability of the sector. Ensuring manufacturers can sustain their position as world number one in exporting high value added food and drink products will consolidate the EU food and drink industry’s place as a fundamental pillar of the EU economy and enable the industry to continue to serve consumers, generate sustainable growth, and, sustain healthy levels of employment and local wealth across communities in the European Union. An Industrial Policy for food would enable the industry to grow and take full advantage of a proper functioning EU Single Market and remain competitive in today’s increasingly global environment while delivering on the ambitions of the EU 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable, inclusive growth’’.