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‘Driving Sustainable Economic Recovery’ – FoodDrinkEurope Examines Global Megatrends

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‘Driving Sustainable Economic Recovery’ – FoodDrinkEurope Examines Global Megatrends

‘Driving Sustainable Economic Recovery’ – FoodDrinkEurope Examines Global Megatrends
October 18
11:49 2012

Europe’s food and drink industry needs to focus on innovation and boosting its competitive advantage while ensuring that science remains at the heart of business and regulation, according to panel of experts at the FoodDrinkEurope Congress 2012.

Moderated by broadcaster David Eades, the first session of the biennial event, entitled ‘Driving Sustainable Economic Recovery’ focused on the current challenges and global trends affecting Europe’s food and drink sector, looking at the needs of the industry and possibilities to stimulate exports and drive the competitiveness of Europe’s leading manufacturing sector, especially for SMEs.

Minister Counsellor on Food and Agriculture for the US Mission to the EU Maurice House said: “In an era of globalisation,Europeis in danger of becoming a food museum. Europe’s food industry clearly needs standards based on science and not on culture alone because the latter are not standards, simply preferences. This is particularly true in a world where Europe will no longer be the sole global standard setter.”

WTO Deputy Director General Rufus Yerxa, added: “The fundamentals are there for Europe to maintain a strong market share and remain competitive worldwide. However, to do that, it must adjust its trade relations so they are not focused on protecting its least efficient sectors. Moreover, Europe needs to find more areas of consensus with its partners rather than pursuing trade disputes.”

Frans Egberts (Managing Director, Henri van de Bilt Vleeswaren) stated that: “The industry needs to be more transparent and open so that it can build trust with consumers. If Europe is to export more, it will have to focus on high quality products since emerging economies can provide lower quality products for themselves.”

Wayne Jones (Head, Agro-Food Trade and Market Division, OECD) stressed that “with a growing world population and incomes rising in emerging countries, we are on the brink of great growth opportunities for our food and drink industries. Europe’s export growth has a tremendous track record but Europe lacks optimism. Yet in the medium to long term, Europe’s competitive and comparative advantage is still huge: an easy place to do business, a high level of competitiveness, leadership in technology and infrastructure, and a highly productive workforce.”

Andrew Morgan, President Europe, Diageo and representative of the European Spirits Organisation – CEPS, said: “The business environment is quite tough, with major differences among countries; however, opportunities are still there, in Europe as in the rest of the world. Our brands and products remain iconic, and Europe will remain a priority as it is the base of our heritage and a key market. What we need from our regulators is that they agree on a proper and comprehensive growth stimulus plan, recognising that indirect taxation is a huge hurdle.”

Wolfgang Heer (Südzucker) discussed the needs of SMEs at the EU and national level in terms of access to finance, export opportunities and how can the Europe’s policy-makers help. Heer explained that “SMEs are among Europe’s key economic drivers, and we need to encourage and boost their growth. We also need to ensure that consumers have a wide range of choice, but a choice that is based on science.” Heer also focused on the reform of the CAP, stating that farmers should have the opportunity to produce high quality raw materials. “The new rules being floated on greening, for example – which would reduce output – are a mistake and should be reconsidered.”

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