BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — The European Commission (E.C.) is working to improve fairness in the food supply chain by greater transparency in the way prices are reported throughout the chain.

The E.C. presented a proposal that will make available information on how prices are determined as agri-food products move along the food supply chain.

According to the Commission, buying and selling price differences can provide information about intermediary costs (such as transport, insurance, storage, etc.) between seller and buyer. More transparency can support better business decisions and improve trust in fair dealing between the stages in the food supply chain. The Commission said having access to timely and easily accessible information about market developments is also key to compete effectively in global markets.

“Strengthening the position of farmers in the food supply chain has been a priority for the Commission,” said Phil Hogan, agriculture and rural development commissioner. “Enhancing market transparency will allow equal access to and greater clarity about price information, making our food chain fairer and better balanced.”

The Commission noted there is a large amount of information available about developments in agricultural markets (prices, volumes of production, stocks, etc.), but very little on market information about other markets in the agri-food supply chain, specifically those that operate between farmers and consumers at the food processing and the retail level.

The lack of information between farmers and others in the food supply chain puts farmers at a disadvantage in the market.

“These new rules will complement the recently adopted directive banning unfair trading practices in empowering weaker and smaller actors of the food supply chain and their introduction reflects the very significant public support that there is throughout the E.U. to strengthen the role of farmer in the food supply chain,” Hogan said.

The proposed measures will cover arable crops, meat, eggs, dairy, fruit and vegetables, sugar and olive oil sectors.  It will build on existing data collection systems and procedures that are already in place and used by operators and member states to report market information to the Commission.

Each member state will be responsible for the collection of price and market data. The Commission recommends that member states choose the most cost-effective approach and do not target small and medium-sized enterprises to reduce the administrative burden. Member states will communicate the data to the Commission, who will in turn make the monitoring available on its agri-food data portal and E.U. market observatories. It is essential that the information provided by the Member States is accurate and timely.

According to the Commission's Better Regulation procedures, the proposal is now published for a four-weeks public consultation period. It will then be adopted by the E.C. and is planned to enter into force six months after its adoption.