COMMENT: Notes from the EU - EU roadmap full of guff
The latest set of EU policies for the food industry - or "roadmap of key initiatives" - aim to boost the prosperity of the sector. However, Keith Nuthall argues that the EU roadmap has merely added to a bloated, ineffective bureaucracy.
You might think the best way for the European food industry to prosper is to manufacture quality products and then sell them at home and abroad using clever marketing.
But somehow the message just does not get through to the European Commission. In an attempt to prove its usefulness, the EU executive instead launches rafts of complex initiatives to boost one industry or another.
However, to many observers, the opposite effect is produced - that of an aimless bloated unelected bureaucracy, meddling in affairs that should not concern it.
Take the latest announcement on a "roadmap of key initiatives" announced following a meeting of EU officials and food industry representatives, the Commission likes to call "stakeholders". All this jargon should warn that there is a fair bit of guff here.
And there is. Among the check-list of joint industry-EU actions are such vacuous classics as "setting up a social dialogue in the agro-food industry", which means more ill-defined talk.
Then there is "developing educational programmes which raise awareness of the importance of the agro-food industry". As if we didn't know that without food, we'd all die.
To be fair, there are some useful actions too, such as studies checking the danger that over-weaning brands might damage competitiveness in the sector and setting up a counterfeit goods monitoring system.
But, generally, we're in worthy-but-dull and potentially ineffective territory - such as establishing a 'European Forum' (more talk) to discuss improving commercial relations in the industry and maybe writing a code of conduct, which could be ignored or may stunt competitiveness if it isn't.
And therein lies the real problem with these 'initiatives'. Some of the measures may work - but they may actually cause economic harm.
And all of them will take up much time of officials and food industry managers, probably better spent devising and making new food products and selling them to a hungry world.
Sectors: Baby food, Bakery, Chilled foods, Commodities & ingredients, Confectionery, Dairy, Food safety, Fresh produce, Frozen, Health & wellness, Meat & poultry, Natural & organic, NPD & innovation, Retailers, Seafood, Snacks, Sustainability & the environment
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