The European Parliament is next week set to discuss a directive proposal that would prohibit certain operating models of Finnish grocery retailers.
The proposal has been subject to a series of last-minute amendments by the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, which would, for example, prohibit grocery retailers from forming procurement consortia in order to maximise their bargaining position and leverage the economies of scale.
In Finland, Kesko and S Group have both procured products for their independent shopkeepers and co-operative shops.
“It’d be absolutely bizarre if such operating models were prohibited. The model is used very commonly in Germany, for example,” comments Janne Koivisto, a senior expert at the Finnish Commerce Federation.
“Almost all retailers are part of international procurement consortia. They enable larger volumes and guarantee a better market position for negotiations with large industrial companies. Kesko and [S Group] are not part of the same consortia,” he adds.
The European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development has also stirred up debate by proposing that grocery retailers be prevented from demanding that suppliers comply with strict, statutory environmental and animal welfare standards. This could jeopardise the procurement of organic products, warns Koivisto.
The European Commission has stated that the directive is an attempt to promote the bargaining position of small operators in the food chain in comparison to large retail conglomerates.
“We were very surprised that German MEPs from the [European People’s Party] EPP made these absurd and impractical proposals. Kesko and S Group’s procurement consortia and national eco-labels are common also elsewhere in Europe,” says Elsi Katainen (Centre), who partook in the negotiations as a representative of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).
“I’m confident that proposals that violate EU laws or that are otherwise unclear or incoherent with member states’ systems can be cleaned out in the trilogue. It’s important tat the directive can be passed during this electoral term,” she adds.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi