Our Priorities › Competitiveness

With a turnover of €1.2 trillion and a value added of €236 billion, the food and drink industry is the leading manufacturing sector in Europe and inextricably intertwined in its social, cultural and economic fabric. It is, therefore, a major contributor to Europe’s economy. In order to sustain the industry’s competitiveness, Europe’s food and drink manufacturers need a business-friendly framework in which to operate. FoodDrinkEurope calls for an ambitious policy framework which must focus on the following priorities: building a strong Single Market, improving trade opportunities, ensuring security of supply, nourishing R&D and innovation, facilitating dialogue in the food supply chain and focusing on employment and skills.

Building a strong Single Market

75% of EU food and drink exports are destined for the Single Market. Completing the Single Market for goods must remain the first priority for EU policy makers. Food and drink companies still struggle with obstacles to cross-border business and adapting products to local rules creates unnecessary burdens and generates costs. 

Improving trade opportunities

The EU food and drink industry is dedicated to delivering safe, high quality, value-added innovative products to consumers worldwide. European food and drink products are exported to more than 200 countries and exports to non-EU countries generated approximately €110bn in 2017 (>25% of total EU food and drink exports). The EU is the world’s largest exporter of food and drink products and second importer, with a positive trade balance of €36bn.

To stimulate trade in Europe’s food and drink products further and benefit from the growing international demand, FoodDrinkEurope calls for a consistent EU trade policy which supports the growth of a sustainable food and drink industry.

This should include, amongst others:
- a continuous commitment to the multilateral trading system
- in the absence of a multilateral agreement, for the EU to seize market opportunities by means of ambitious and balanced bilateral trade negotiations with key partners
- recognition of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) specificities to increase SMEs ability to enter international markets

In today’s economic context and increasingly globalised world, trade agreements with key partners and improved access to growth markets is considered a pragmatic way forward to increase competitiveness and exports.

Ensuring security of supply

Food and drink industries rely on access to adequate supplies of safe and sustainable raw materials. These materials should meet specific quality criteria and be competitively priced.
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is pivotal to meeting this objective, given that the industry purchases and processes 70% of EU agricultural production (Source: Wageningen Economic Research). Therefore, the industry is interested in promoting a truly common, demand-oriented CAP that enables farmers to become more competitive by making production decisions in line with market demand. A market-driven agriculture requires market intelligence, i.e. facts, estimates, opinions and other market information. Overall there is sufficient market transparency, from both public and private sources, for all stakeholders to get a comprehensive overview of agricultural markets.
Besides, other policies that are likely to have an impact on the availability of agricultural raw materials should take into consideration the competitiveness of the EU food and drink industry. For instance, the renewable energy legislation should encourage sustainable renewable energies with high and effective greenhouse gas reduction potential as well as follow the “food first” principle.

Facilitating dialogue in the food supply chain

Industries’ competitiveness relies on a holistic approach to policies governing the European food chain. Permanent dialogue through the High Level Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain (HLF) and the European Food Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Round Table, among others, has the potential to bring real value added to the chain.

Indeed, the HLF, brings together stakeholders across the food chain to assist the European Commission with the development of industrial policy in the agri-food sector.