The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed moves by the European Commission, which aim to increase transparency in the supply chain, by improving the ways in which prices are recorded and reported.
In 2016, an EU Agricultural Markets Task Force (AMTF) was established to examine the role of primary producers in the wider food supply chain. In 2017, following the recommendations of the AMTF, the Commission launched a consultation on the improvement of the food supply which covered three elements: unfair trading practices, producer cooperation, and market transparency.
Having previously banned unfair trading practises and having providing mechanisms for improved co-operation, this latest consultation seeks to improve fairness in the food supply chain by introducing greater transparency in the way prices are reported throughout the chain.
“Tools, such as the Eurostat tool launched in 2017, aid transparency by helping demonstrate how price rises and falls are transmitted from one part of the supply chain to the other and what impact this has on each constituent element and how quickly.
“However, at present, the EU only provides supply chain information such as producer and consumer prices and little information is provided on other supply chain elements,” said FUW Senior Policy Officer Dr Hazel Wright.
If adopted, the change would help address this problem by covering the meat, eggs, dairy, fruit and vegetables, arable crops, sugar, and olive oil sectors and each Member State will be responsible for the collection of price and market data.
"While we will not be subject to these changes if we leave the EU with no deal at the end of October, such transparency will be of huge benefit for UK farmers both as a benchmark and for those exporting to the EU.
"Such a move should also be seen as showing the way forward for the UK Government in terms of improving transparency along the UK supply chain."
The FUW has long stressed that transparency throughout the supply chain is essential for the development of policies which aim to provide a more equitable balance of supply chain power.
“A current lack of market transparency means that primary producers are unable to understand the drivers for price change. Primary producers must be able to balance and weigh out the risks of any decisions made and better, more transparent, supply chain reporting should aid this process,” said Dr Wright.
However, there remains a dearth of information on other key elements of the supply chain between farmers and the food processing and retail level.
“The FUW has consistently expressed concern that this asymmetry in supply chain information weakens the position of primary producers and the Union therefore welcomes moves to improve and strengthen supply chain data access,” she added.
In February last year, the results of an EU-wide survey demonstrated that almost 90 percent of respondents believed that strengthening farmers' role in the food supply chain is important.