The 3397th Council meeting Agriculture and Fisheries held in Luxembourg on 16 June 2015 took stock of Commission reports regarding the mandatory indication of the country of origin for milk and dairy products and certain types of meat, unprocessed foods and single ingredient products. Some member states supported the principle of country of origin indication, while others considered that the benefit of providing this additional information to the consumer should be balanced with the cost of the measures for the agri-food sectors concerned. Two reports regarding the mandatory indication of the country of origin for: (i) types of meat other than beef, swine, sheep, goat and poultry, milk and milk used as an ingredient in dairy products; (ii) unprocessed foods, single ingredient products and ingredients that represent more than 50% of a food.
The 3397th Council meeting Agriculture and Fisheries held in Luxembourg on 16 June 2015 reached agreement on a general approach on a proposal for a regulation on organic farming. The proposal is aimed at revising the existing legislation on organic production and labelling of organic products so as to remove obstacles to the development of organic production in the EU, guarantee fair competition for farmers and operators and improve consumer confidence in organic products. The agreement on organic production and labelling of organic products will make it possible to launch negotiations between the Parliament and the Council with a view to reaching a political agreement between the EU institutions.
French and UK supermarkets are amongst the first in Europe to lead the example by giving unsold food from supermarkets to non-profit organisations. The French government recently voted to stop supermarkets wasting food, as they will now have to give the food to charities or farms. In the UK, the largest supermarket chain, Tesco will be giving away food it otherwise would dispose of to women's refuge centers and children breakfast clubs. The move will help address the massive amount of food wasted globally each year, while also tackling problem of hunger. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published the following fact in October 2014: If the amount of food wasted each year -1.3 billion tons- was just cut in half, everyone would be fed.
The Council of the EU’s Permanent Representatives Committee approved a final compromise text on new EU rules for novel foods. The text includes the European Parliament's amendments that were accepted by the Council. The compromise text is deemed to be a significant improvement on the current rules on novel foods and takes into consideration: (i) novel foods will be available on the EU market, while preserving the high level of protection of human health; (ii) generic authorisations (i.e via any food business operator) are proposed, as opposed to centralised EU-level procedures (which previously authorized the provider as opposed to the food product) to cut the current administrative burdens; (iii) facilitating EU market access for traditional foods from third countries, once the applicant can demonstrate consistent food safety for at least 25 years.
A delegation from Rwanda – comprised of 15 horticulture companies and two high-level representatives of the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) - shall visit the Netherlands for a B2B trip on the sidelines of the ‘No More Food to Waste’ conference, 15-17 June. Rwandan State Minister of Agriculture & Animal Resources, Mrs. Gerardine Mukeshimana led the delegation and was also kenote speaker at the conference. Minister Mukeshimana spoke of the aim to reduce food losses by bringing together global stakeholders from knowledge institutes, governments, NGO’s and the private sector. The program also included company visits, workshops and a B2B session, organized by the Netherlands-African Business Council in cooperation with Greenport Holland International.
The European Commission shall partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and establish a new fund to tackle the global challenge of undernutrition in six countries: Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Laos and Niger. EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, confirmed the EU’s commitment in supporting partner countries to reduce the number of children who are chronically undernourished by at least seven million by 2025 and its commitment of €23.5 million for the new initiative: the National Information Platforms on Nutrition (NIPN). The initiative will provide partner countries with the tools to better monitor progress in the reduction of undernutrition, improve information and analysis about nutrition, and enable partner countries to develop well-informed and effective national nutrition policies as a result.
At an informal meeting of EU Agricultural ministers, it was decided that the “zero tolerance” approach to policies should not be included in the new EU regulation, due to be approved by Agriculture Ministers on 16th June. This means that pesticide residues shall be permitted in organic farming within the EU. This does means that the countries who advocate for "zero tolerance" policies may apply them in their national markets, although they will have to accept higher levels in imports from other member states or third countries. The rationale of the "zero tolerance" clause is to avoid crop contamination by products grown in nearby farms, which would automatically result in them being discarded for the organic certificate.
CTA’s Director, Michael Hailu spoke on the panel by the EC, German Development Inistitute BMZ and the International Food Policy research Institute (IFPRI) on ‘Improving food systems for better lives’. Millions of people are living in poverty around the world, but making our food systems more nutritious, resilient, and inclusive can significantly improve their lives within the next ten years. A concluding multi-disciplinary panel discussed ‘Moving from Research to Action’ drawing on wide ranging expertise on ideas, recommendations and priorities for improving food systems with the goal of ending hunger and undernutrition in the coming decade.
The EU executive defended the position promoting the voluntary origin labeling for unprocessed food products, products that comprise a single ingredient and the ingredients that represent more than 50 per cent of a food product. It argues that it seeks to avoid the increase in sales price and in costs for companies and administrations that would involve the mandatory character for the requirement. According to the EC, "the mandatory origin labeling at the level of the European Union (EU) and, even more, at country level, is a very difficult task to implement in many areas of food products and represents a significant increase in cost production, which ultimately would be passed on to consumers." Therefore, it believes that "the voluntary origin labeling would be the alternative that would disrupt the market the least and would keep product costs at current levels."
Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Minister of Trade and Industry said Ghana could learn lessons from Italy to increase its non-traditional export. Currently, Italy is Ghana’s second largest export destination: in 2013, Ghana’s total export to Italy amounted to $751 million dominated by petroleum oils, cocoa beans and tuna. The launch of Milan Expo 2015 can intensify bilateral, economic, scientific and cultural partnerships with countries around the globe on the theme: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” The Expo is designed on a cluster model which represents one of the innovative elements and is organised into six specific food chains-coffee, cacao, spices, fruit and legumes, cereals and tubers.