The EU food and drink industry is comprised of 290,000 SMEs – making up 99% of the entire industry. We work diligently to ensure that SMEs are supported and remain at the heart of our economy.
SMEs are responsible for producing the vast range of food and drink products that satisfy the changing needs of consumers in the EU. These businesses employ 2.8 million people – equivalent to the entire population of Lithuania.
Everyone knows one or more food or drink enterprise in their region, and likely grew up enjoying their products. While these companies stand for cultural heritage and regional traditions, they also represent a bright future for Europe’s youth, delivering opportunities and innovation.
The EU Single Market is a vital artery for SME growth, providing access to over 450 million consumers with diverse tastes and palates.
A functioning Single Market provides access to a wealth of high-quality food and drink products at affordable prices, from across the continent and from abroad. Enabling this requires a Single Market free from national barriers and diverging measures. The EU Single Market is a doorway to endless opportunities for Europe’s SMEs and its integrity is essential.
Food and drink SMEs are highly diverse in the products they make, the places they make them and how they sell them. They are also diverse when it comes to innovation, from consumer research, improving efficiency to making production more environmentally sustainable, technology and digitalisation are key components of SME growth.
SMEs are just as exposed to global trends and challenges as any other business in the food chain and they need consistent support to continue developing the latest innovation. The EU’s Horizon Europe programme is an important source of support and it is imperative to ensure fair access to it for businesses of all sizes, and from all corners of the continent.
The food supply chain is a major source of jobs and growth, particularly in rural areas. SMEs are closely linked to local producers and they rely on them to source competitively priced raw materials of the appropriate quantity and quality. SMEs also rely on good business relationships upstream – particularly with retailers. In order for them to benefit from the Single Market and develop opportunities in non-EU countries, well-functioning and balanced supply chains are essential, which should be supported by the national implementation of the Directive on unfair trading practices.