Marking a milestone amid challenging economic times
Welcome to the 2012 FoodDrinkEurope Annual Report - the first of its kind as an ‘online’ Report - which gives a flavour of the activities of the organisation over the past year.
2012 was certainly a year full of new challenges but also opportunities for FoodDrinkEurope – from the official launch of a Social Dialogue for Europe’s food and drink industry with our trade union partners, EFFAT, to the agreement of a voluntary framework for fairer B2B relations along the supply chain, to name but two.
We also marked an important milestone in 2012 as we celebrated our 30 year anniversary in Brussels as the trade body representing Europe’s food and drink manufacturers. This special anniversary was celebrated at our Congress, ‘Feeding the Recovery’ last October, during which we welcomed a host of European and international guest speakers to discuss the big challenges facing Europe’s food and drink industry today and in the years to come. The competitiveness of Europe’s food and drink industry was debated passionately by participants as was how a competitive food business in Europe can help the EU emerge stronger from the current economic downturn.
The event also provided the occasion for the launch of our FoodDrinkEurope ‘Industry Manifesto’, a framework to guide the organisation’s future work across eleven key areas. With the implementation of this framework, we will become a more competitive and sustainable industry in Europe, and increasingly recognised as a critical contributor to the EU economy, to growth and to jobs in the local community. To read the Manifesto in full and to review some of the event’s memorable moments, log onto: http://congress.fooddrinkeurope.eu/.
Today, the economic difficulties facing the EU are particularly challenging; the language of austerity in many Member States has become commonplace and the socio-political challenges facing governments are immense as they struggle to provide economic growth and jobs. This is especially important given the increasing numbers of young people out of work and desperately searching for the means to secure a better future.
Yet, against the difficult economic climate in the EU, and the corresponding uncertainty that this creates for consumers and businesses alike, our place as Europe’s leading manufacturing industry and a leading global food industry is impressive. It demonstrates the resilience and determination of Europe’s food and drink operators to remain a competitive, world-class industry, embedded in the socio-economic fabric of the European Union, helping to maintain local jobs and generate wealth. With a turnover of €1017 billion and direct EU employment figures at 4.25 million, not to mention support for many more indirect jobs, the importance of Europe’s food and drink industry as a pillar of the EU economy has never been more pronounced. And with a growing positive trade balance of €13.2 billion, our industry has shown that it is dedicated to delivering safe, high quality, innovative foods not only to Europe’s consumers everyday but also, increasingly, to consumers in many other parts of the world, and in growing volumes! That’s quite an achievement and one of which we can all be proud.
But this is no reason to be complacent. If Europe’s leading manufacturing industry is to continue in this position in years to come, faced with shrinking global market shares vis-à-vis heightened competition from players in emerging markets, we need to continue not only to create, but also to exploit, opportunities for growth to the full. In addition, the market conditions must be favourable in guaranteeing greater possibilities for trade. Regulations must also be science-based to engender greater legal confidence and, ultimately, returns on investment to boost growth.
Last but not least, we must do more to inspire consumer trust in our industry and create wider recognition of its important contribution to every part of the daily lives of citizens across the EU. Defending the reputation of the industry has not been an easy task of late given the recent fraud incident of horsemeat mislabelled as beef in prepared meat products. The illegal actions of a few which do so much damage to the reputation of so many, are completely unacceptable and should not go unpunished. As a result, we must now redouble our efforts to work together to help restore confidence in our industry and in our safe, nutritious and high quality food and drink products. This will form a big part of the work for our organisation FoodDrinkEurope in 2013 and no doubt beyond.
I wish you an enjoyable read of this 2012 Annual Report and, should you have any comments, questions or feedback that you would like to share with us, we would be very pleased to receive them.
Jesús Serafín Pérez
 European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions.
 FoodDrinkEurope 2012 Data and Trends figures