DG Agri study on the ‘State of play of agricultural interbranch organisations (IBOs) in the EU’

DG Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission has just released a study on the ‘State of play of agricultural interbranch organisations (IBOs) in the EU’ in the context of the current Common Market Organisation under Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013.

Arcadia International together with Wageningen University and a network of national food lawyers (including me and my dear friend Francesco Montanari) performed this study for the Commission. The study provides a detailed overview of national legislation on IBOs as well as an analysis of the sectors in which IBOs have been established so far and their activities. This would not have been possible without the cooperation of all stakeholders surveyed and interviewed during the study to whom we are very grateful!

The full report and annexes can be downloaded HERE.

Some findings extracted from the executive summary:

Member States with legislation on IBOs – main features: As regards the definition of ‘IBOs’, several Member States have laid down national definitions for this purpose. Although national definitions largely coincide with the notion of IBOs provided by Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013, the legislation of each Member State has its own peculiarities.

The national legislation of most Member States provides for the possibility for IBOs to conclude agreements, decisions and concerted practices, provided that they do not breach the provisions of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013.

Article 164 par. 1 of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 allows Member States to extend agreements concluded within an IBO to other operators that are not members of that organisation and that act within its economic area(s), as long as the IBO is considered to be representative of the production, the processing or the trade of a given product. Furthermore, in accordance with Article 165, when an IBO agreement has been extended, Member States may also decide that non-members, which benefit from that activity, are subject to the payment of all or part of the fees intended to cover the costs directly occasioned by the activities undertaken by the IBO in the general economic interest of the sector.

Member States with national legislation on IBOs but with no IBO recognised: Currently, IBOs are formally recognised only in France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Spain. The reasons for the lack of recognitions in the remaining 11 Member States vary and include, for instance, the lack of awareness about IBOs, the preference for other organisational structures, the lack of funding opportunities, distrust towards vertical cooperation in the food supply chain, due to historical reasons, as well as the administrative burden associated with their establishment. Likewise, in certain Member States, the slow uptake and the relative weakness of producer organisations recognised under Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 at national level is regarded as a factor that justifies the current lack of recognised IBOs.

Member States with no legislation on IBOs in place: 9 Member States, namely Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Sweden, Slovenia and the United Kingdom have currently no national legislation for IBOs. The reasons are similar to the above mentioned.

The number of IBOs in the European Union has increased from 56 IBOs in 1990 to 123 (119+4) in 2016. The recognition of additional ones is planned during the second semester of 2016 (fruits and vegetables and floriculture in the Netherlands, fruits and vegetables in Spain, banana in France, and 2-3 additional ones in Greece). In the 1980- 1995 period growth was mainly observed in France. Since then the growth occurred in 7 other Member States (Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Portugal, and Spain). More than half of the recognised IBOs are located in France (63) for 60 located in the other 7 Member States (7 in Greece, 6 in Hungary, 3 in Italy, 27 in Spain, 7 in the Netherlands, 5 in Romania, and 5 in Portugal). Most of the IBOs have a national scope (85 out of 123). Regional IBOs are present in only 2 MS (France with 36 regional IBOs in mainly the wine sector, and Spain with 2 regionally recognised IBOs in Andalusia). There are, at the moment, no transnational IBOs at EU level.

Representativeness rarely reaches 100%. It usually ranges between 80 and 95% at primary production level. In general, the level of representativeness seems to be higher in primary production than for the other stages of the supply chain.

The study shows that the main three objectives of IBOs are:

 First, improving knowledge and transparency of production and the market;

 Secondly, promoting consumption on internal and export markets; and

 Thirdly providing information and perform the necessary research to innovate and secure quality of the products.

IBOs are confronted with several challenges: The first main challenge is linked to the concerted management of interests of the different actors in the supply chain. The organisation of dialogue has to be preceded by a pre-condition, which is the clarification of the interests of the different categories of supply chain actors involved and the construction of a common position. In addition, analysis of the history of IBOs shows that the success of dialogue between supply chain actors within the IBOs is partly determined by the role that public authorities play. Another challenge is related to the demand of more transparency in the IBOs governance and procedures.

Benefits of IBOs

The assessment of success and consequently the benefits arising from IBOs have to be considered carefully as the realisation of benefits is not shown in all cases due to the variability of organisations and governing principles. Complexity is added by the very nature of mostly intangible or soft benefits that can neither be measured nor quantified explicitly.

IBOs offer a platform for discussion between supply chain actors that are members of these organisations and create the conditions for collective communication with other actors of the same supply chain but also leads to improve communication between IBOs members.

Additionally, this platform creates a focal point for policy dialogue with government and public authorities. Public authorities also benefit from the presence of IBOs in the supply chain in emergency and crisis situations. IBOs have therefore a specific role for the supply chain as an entry point for Competent Authorities. When an IBO represents all the stages of the chain it covers (because extension is systematically applied), authorities can use it as an entry point for implementing dedicated measures, proposing the delegation of tasks, and therefore the transfer of costs to the private sector.

In some cases, the possibility to extend food safety or plant health mandatory measures to all actors of a given agri-food sector provides a robust and immediate response to food safety emergencies and crisis.

Supply chains benefit from IBOs activities as regards the collection and dissemination of technical and economic knowledge. IBOs are centres of expertise which collect technical and economic data, discuss the findings and then make available this knowledge to their members (and often also to non-members). The presence of an IBO in the supply chain allows for a fairer distribution of risks and profitability.

IBO: tools for the development of supply chain?

IBOs may play a key role in the functioning of the supply chain, and therefore in developing the food supply chain for the benefit of all actors. However, the vertical cooperation model cannot ensure such developments by itself alone. It is in fact only one amongst the tools that could be implemented in the supply chain. In several MS in which no IBOs are recognised, other types of vertical cooperation exist, according to the description of the current landscape. There is quite a diversity of situations, which might be seen as a sign of adaptation to national situations.

To obtain the benefits of interbranch organisations, components of the legislation (especially possibility of extension of rules and financing) and the conditions of success presented above must be implemented, even if these prerequisites do not provide guarantees of effectiveness. Effective participation of members and real commitment to collaborating must be present. Moderation by public authorities in stakeholders’ discussions and disputes could also be seen as a factor of sustainability.

Even if the number of IBOs continues to grow at a regular pace, the full implementation of the “IBO concept” – i.e. the full use of legislative provisions, including extensions of rules and financing to non-members, and the establishment and establishment of close relationship between all actors being economic actors, other stakeholders and public authorities – is still under development. A majority of Spanish and Romanian IBOs have benefitted from national funding via subsidies at recognition. However, they currently suffer from lack of funding as subsidies have been stopped and no extension of rules is in place to date.

 

Bari (26-27th Jan 2017) – Food Fraud Prevention and Effective Food Allergen Management

MoniQA Association is organizing a two-day-symposium on Food Fraud Prevention and Effective Food Allergen Management targeted toward the food industry/ food manufacturers, food production auditors and representatives from the regulatory environment.

This workshop will be especially suitable for SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) and fulfilling CPD (Continuous Professional Development) requirements. The workshop will give practical, scientific and legal background information, insight in innovative approaches, newly developed tools and recently introduced analytical methods to combat food fraud and improve food allergen management. These new developments will be linked to real case studies and learnings from recent incidents. Learnings from stakeholder viewpoints, such as food manufacturers, food laboratories, food analytical methods providers, auditors, risk assessors, lawyers, trainers/teachers, media and communicators, regulatory bodies and policy makers shall complement the scientific programme and stimulate open discussion.

The symposium will be co-organised with CNR-ISPA (a MoniQA Founder Member, since 2007) in Bari, Italy.

On 26th January I will be most pleased to give a speech at the event above mentioned, about a very intriguing topic: A food recall pending? Balancing brand reputation and social responsibility“.

It will be a great opportunity to put together both the topic of the symposium (frauds and allergens), together with other interesting ideas about communication, crisis management and the importance of transparency in such circumstances.

At the end of the day an high level roundtable will follow.

You can learn more about the event on the website, or download the full program here.

On 25th, the event will be preceded by the following experts’ meetings:

Wednesday, 25 January 2017:

14:00 – 18:00 Task Force Meeting: Food Allergen Reference Materials (new incurred materials for milk, egg, and, gluten-analysis, results of validation studies, next steps and forthcoming additional reference materials)

14:00 – 18:00 Task Force Initiative: Food Fraud Prevention (identifying gaps and needs, what can MoniQA contribute? How can industry/SMEs benefit more from such projects/initiatives? How can we improve the technology transfer?

Below you can find a list of the selected speakers:

Food Fraud Prevention – selected speakers:

  • Michael Walker, Referee Analyst in the Laboratory of the Government Chemist, LGC, UK: Food detectives: what it takes to trace food fraud;
  • Cesare Varallo, Food lawyer and regulatory specialist, INSCATECH, Italy: A food recall pending? Balancing brand reputation and social responsibility;
  • Jeff Moore, Director, Science-Food Standards, United States Pharmacopeia (USP), USA: Information tools and approaches for identifying and mitigating food fraud risks in the supply
  • Karen Everstine, United States Pharmacopeia (USP), USA: Advances in systems based approaches to food fraud mitigation
  • Alain Maquet, Joint Research Centre (JRC), European Commission, Belgium: Challenges to authenticate organically produced food by using analytical tools.
  • Bert Popping, Chief Scientific Officer, Corporate Food Chemistry and Molecular Biology, Mérieux NutriSciences Corporation, France: Food Fraud Combat: Novel approaches, from single analyte methods to non-targeted approaches
  • Jingyi Li Blank, Director, Mintz Group, Hong Kong: Background checks as a tool against food fraud
  • Richard Cantrill, American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS), USA: Challenges in assuring the authenticity of edible oils
  • Tullia Gallina Toschi, University of Bologna, Coordinator of the OLEUM Project, Italy: Analytical strategies for assuring authenticity and quality of olive oil at global scale: the OLEUM project
  • Marco Arlorio, Università del Piemonte Orientale “A. Avogadro”, Italy: Artificial intelligence and data mining as functional solutions for the untargeted methods in food traceability/authenticity: the Food Integrity Project, WP18
  • Vincenzo Lippolis, CNR-ISPA Bari, Italy: Rapid non-targeted methods to fight food frauds
  • Michal Godula, Thermo Fisher, Italy: Resolving the food authenticity challenges – using advanved isotopic ratio and Orbitrap high resolution mass spectrometry tools in practice
  • David Psomiadis, Imprint Analytics, Austria: Developments in food authenticity testing by the use of stable isotope analysis: Modernizing a traditional method for commercial purposes on testing geographic origin of food and naturalness of food ingredients.
  • Valeria Terzi, Genomics Research Centre, CREA-GPG, Fiorenzuola d’Arda, Italy: DNA markers to defend authenticity and safety in small grain cereals chains.
  • Kezban Candogan, Department of Food Engineering, Ankara University, Turkey: Detection of Adulteration in Meats: Species Identification of Raw Meat Mixtures Using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy.

Effective Food Allergen Management – Selected speakers (titles are still tentative):

  • Luigi Macchia, MD, PhD, University of Bari – Aldo Moro, School and Chair of Allergology and Clinical Immunology, Italy: Food allergy of the Mediterranean Diet
  • Clare Mills, University of Manchester, Coordinator of the iFAAM Project, UK: iFAAM – integrated food allergy and allergen management
  • Samuel Godefroy, Laval University, Canada: Food allergen labelling from a risk assessment and regulatory perspective.
  • Robin Sherlock (tbc), DTS FACTA, Australia: VITAL 2.0 – how industry benefits from food allergen management support tools
  • Industry representative (tbc), Food allergen management in a food manufacturing environment despite the absence of threshold levels
  • Luca Bucchini, Food allergen recalls: what can we learn?
  • Melanie Downs, FARRP – Food Allergy Research & Resource Program, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA: Development and Validation of Effective Food Allergen Control Plans
  • Daniel Imhof, Head Official Food Control Authority Brunnen, Switzerland: The Swiss model of collaboration between industry and authorities by applying food allergen action limits
  • Consumer representative: allergen labelling and pre-cautionary labelling – wish list
  • Linda Monaci, ISPA-CNR, Italy: Methods of analysis – are we any better now than 10 years ago?
  • Roland Poms, MoniQA Association, Austria: Food allergen reference materials and their impact on more reliable analytical results
  • Marco Gobetti, University of Bari, Italy: Meeting the needs of celiac and gluten-sensitive consumers
  • Katharina Scherf, German Research Centre for Food Chemistry, Leibniz Institute, Germany: Gluten – a special case
  • Ronald Niemeijer, R-Biopharm, Germany: Rapid methods in food allergen management

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