EuroCommerce, which represents the retail and wholesale sectors in Europe, has welcomed the launch of a public consultation on the EU framework for sustainable food systems, with director general Christel Delberghe saying that the consultation demonstrates how the "retail and wholesale sector is fully committed to working with other stakeholders in the supply chain to build sustainable food systems in Europe".
Delberghe pointed to EuroCommerce's efforts with regard to the Farm-to-Fork Code of Conduct, adding that the group's "main ask" of the Commission is to "ensure that any regulation emerging from this exercise allows flexibility for innovative ideas with well-defined sustainability criteria".
Increased Consumer Interest
A recent report from EuroCommerce in association with McKinsey shows continued consumer interest in purchasing sustainable and healthy food options, however it also highlights a growing polarisation of the ability to buy said products, with inflationary pressures impacting less-well-off families.
EuroCommerce is asking the Commission to propose rules which 'work with the grain of existing multiple voluntary sector initiatives and add value to these', as well as ensuring a strong single market, with an 'enabling policy environment that supports companies in their ability to do business and differentiate themselves from their competitors'.
The group also encourages the Commission to be coherent with existing EU legislation and approaches such as in the General Food Law, in defining responsibility and reporting requirements, and ensure that responsibility falls on the operators best placed to fulfil those obligations.
A food safety and science-based approach needs to be at the heart of a sustainable food system, EuroCommerce added, and rules and definitions covering sustainability and any claims related to it need to be clear and easily applicable by operators, as well as understood by customers.
In addition, EuroCommerce has asked the Commission to ensure that it involves retail and wholesale and the rest of the supply chain when drawing up rules to ensure that they are practicable and can therefore achieve their objectives.