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Spanish farmers’ union calls for dominance of retail to be addressed

Spanish farmers’ union calls for dominance of retail to be addressed (Huelva, Spain) © Réussir Fruits et Légumes
© Réussir Fruits et Légumes

 

Spain’s Union of Farmers’ Unions has denounced the dominance of the five large groups that dominate the country’s food retail, and account for 49.9% of the market share of food. Mercadona holds 24.7% and the Carrefour group holds 8.6%, according to the latest Kantar data. Despite consumption expected to grow by 14.7% in 2020, the benefits have not been transferred to food producers. Indeed, the margin between origin and destination prices now stands at 46%, according to the union. 

In a press release, the union stated: “Neither the European Guidelines nor the state laws are managing to reverse this situation. It is time to address the root problems to achieve a more equitable distribution throughout the chain.”

The organisation is participating in pressing for modifications in 2020 of Law 12/2013 on the food chain, sending amendments and meeting with all parliamentary groups to convey the demands of the sector. Among other issues, the organisation is calling for the definition of a dominant position in the agri-food sector to be based on 8% of the market share, similar to what happens in other strategic sectors of the Spanish economy such as the energy sector.

The Union of Unions also criticises the excessive concentration in retail at the European level. In France, Leclerc and Carrefour have shares of 22.5% and 19.6% respectively, in the UK, Tesco and Sainsbury’s hold shares of 26.9% and 14.9%, respectively.

The organization urges the public powers at all levels to make a thorough review of the model that is prevailing, despite the laws, and that generates a strong imbalance throughout the chain.

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The GLOBALG.A.P. Tour stops off at Tucumán

The GLOBALG.A.P. Tour stops off at Tucumán

 

After 6 years, the certifier returns to Argentina to complete its 2019 Tour.

The province of Tucumán is the smallest in Argentina, but ranks 9th in terms of wealth generation, thanks to its excellent exportable offer, which is highly diversified, with 170 products exported to 160 countries. This is why Tucumán was chosen as the venue for the most recent edition of the GLOBALG.A.P. Tour. The first day featured conferences relating to various topics concerning production management and quality certification. The second day included field visits to companies such as Citrusvil and Tierra de Arándanos. The tour event focused on the economic benefits of good agricultural practices and introduced the latest GLOBALG.A.P. solutions, such as GLOBALG.A.P. add-ons, the Farm Assurer Program, the localg.a.p. program, GLOBALG.A.P. Livestock certification, the GLOBALG.A.P. traceability system, and the GLOBALG.A.P. FSMA PSR add-on to address the implications of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Good Agricultural Practices certification
is synonymous with competitiveness

In Argentina today, there are 608 companies with GLOBALG.A.P certification, and this figure is increasing. This is why the certifier partnered with the Tucumán Productive Development Institute (IDEP) to promote the products, services and benefits offered by both organisations. IDEP executive director, Dirk Trotteyn, said: “Our companies that adopt high production standards not only address aspects of food safety, but also respect and care for environmental resources, as well as the well-being of their workers.”

Vice-president of GLOBALG.A.P., Flavio Alzueta, stressed the importance of companies and producers addressing international market trends to meet a food demand that is increasingly aligned with quality and sustainability. “GLOBALG.A.P. is a platform that opens doors to compete in the main markets. Having this certification makes us more competitive. Argentina has great proactive professionals who do things well and conscientiously. There is room to grow our exports. At the same time, we must close the gap at the local level, where only 13% of fruits and vegetables are sold in the formal channel, with the rest sold informally,” said Alzueta.

IDEP launches
the “Tucumán Brand” Quality Seal

The GLOBALG.A.P. Tour was the ideal framework within which to launch the “Tucumán Brand” Quality Seal. Although the territory brand was created over 10 years ago, this latest launch offers new horizons to explore its full potential. The seal is a powerful tool that stimulates continuous improvement while also promoting values ​​linked to the sustainability of organisations. IDEP has been the main driver in building the Quality Seal and promoting its continuous improvement. It targets companies linked to primary production, the industrial sector, services, and public administration. There are currently more than 550 Argentine companies that are licensees of this hallmark.

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Dutch watchdog fines cold storage firms

The Dutch competition watchdog has fined 4 cold storage firms for allegedly distorting competition in various ways between 2006 and 2009.

The Dutch competition watchdog has fined four cold storage firms a total of nearly €12.5 million.

In a press release, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) said the companies –  Eimskip, Kloosbeheer, Samskip and Van Bon (now H&S Coldstores) – distorted competition in various ways between 2006 and 2009.

During that period, “the companies involved were holding merger talks, but, in those talks, they made arrangements about prices, exchanged competition-sensitive information, and shared customers among each other. As a result thereof, competition in the cold-storage market has been seriously impeded.”

ACM said anticompetitive arrangements were discovered in various emails and competition-sensitive information was frequently exchanged. For example:

  • the managers informed each other about the price for food storage;
  • they told each other the current utilisation rates of their storage facilities, and thus whether or not they were looking for jobs;
  • sometimes they made arrangements about who would get which customer or about what price increase would be passed on;
  • arrangements were made about bids to potential clients, thus it was clear in advance who would get the job.

“Companies in the cold-storage market are a key link in the food transport chain. Many different products are stored, ranging from fruit juices and vegetables to fish and meat. Cold-storage facilities can primarily be found in logistical hubs such as ports.

“In and around the ports, many businesses work closely together in order to be able to work fast and efficiently. However, this may also lead to a situation where it becomes easy to make anticompetitive arrangements. Even to this very day, ACM still receives indications that some businesses do not compete fairly in other segments of the port and transport industry,” ACM said.

“For 2016 and 2017, ACM has this industry on its radar, among other industries. ACM will not just be keeping a close watch on businesses that violate the rules, but will also inform businesses of risky business practices,” it added.

Appeals underway

In a press release, Samskip said it had already appealed the ACM decision to impose a fine on it. During the time Samskip was shareholder of Kloosterboer IJmuiden, Samskip was not in any way involved in, and nor did it have any knowledge of, anticompetitive behaviour by Kloosterboer IJmuiden, it said.

And according to FoodProductiondaily.com, Eimskip is also to appeal.

Satellite image of Europoort, Netherlands via Public Domain: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=129495
Image used only as illustrative example of a Dutch port.

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EU competition watchdog to check if Carrefour breaching rules

The European Commission is looking into whether Carrefour’s policy of offering only “France Origin” seasonable vegetables in nearly 1,200 of its stores in France breaches competition rules.

The European Commission is looking into whether French retail giant Carrefour’s new policy of offering only ‘France Origin’ seasonable vegetables in nearly 1,200 of its stores in France may breach competition rules.

Margrethe Vestager, European commissioner for Competition, said the Commission is currently looking into the issues and liaising with the French competition authority.

“It appears from the press release issued in November that Carrefour and France’s federation of vegetable producers announced a new partnership agreement to offer only ‘France Origin’ seasonable vegetables in Carrefour’s 1,200 retail stores in France.”

“It is a priority of the Commission to protect the internal market and avoid restrictions of competition to the detriment of the consumer. It appears from the announcement in question that imported products will not be sold in Carrefour’s shops in France. In order to investigate whether the situation, and in particular this partnership, entails a breach of competition rules a number of facts would need to be ascertained.”

“The Commission is currently looking into these issues and liaising with the French competition authority,” she said.

Dutch MEP asks what what action will be taken if rules are being broken

Vestager was responding to a written question from Dutch MEP Jan Huitema (ALDE), who began by saying that the Carrefour announcement in November that in the next 10 months it would purchase fruit and vegetables only from French producers, meant imports of produce from other EU Member States would be blocked.

“Carrefour sees this as a means of supporting French farmers who have been hit by the Russian boycott, adverse weather conditions and low prices,” Huitema said, but he went on to ask, “if Carrefour is breaching EU competition rules with the measure and undermining free trade within the European Union.”

“What measures will the Commission take if it turns out that Carrefour has broken the rules and when will the Commission take action?” he also wrote.

Carrefour says “first of its kind” move aimed at helping French growers

In a November press release, Carrefour said  its agreement with France’s federation of vegetable producers to offer only France Origin seasonable vegetables was the “first of its kind” and “consistent with the group’s ongoing commitment to supporting farming and to working in close partnership with farmers. It will also apply to spring and summer vegetables.”

“Following the highly unusual weather conditions that 2014 has seen, together with the serious disruptions that have resulted from the sanctions imposed on Russia, Carrefour – in partnership with Légumes de France – has decided to support French producers of everyday vegetables and promote production in France of carrots, potatoes, onions, turnips, chicory, shallots, etc. while they are in season.”

“This commitment covers all of the group’s Carrefour hypermarkets and Carrefour Market supermarkets in France – a total of nearly 1200 stores. And so that customers know what exactly they’re buying, special signage will be used to identify all France Origin products,” Carrefour said.

Read more about the Carrefour Group on p26-27 of our latest edition, number 135.

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