The panelists at the event presented the outlook for the supply and demand of raw materials in the E.U. over the past 5 years, looking at where grains, oilseeds, protein crops and feedstuffs were sourced from and what the trends in production and imports are. Future perspectives also were touched upon and discussions focused on what may be expected in terms of production in the E.U. over the next five years to see if Europe will be able to meet demand (domestic and from non-E.U. countries) given the different challenges that exist such as climate change, crops, etc.
During the debate, Max Schulman, chairman of the cereals working party of COPA & COGECA said that farmers are entrepreneurs who are looking for a good functioning E.U. Single Market and correct market signals. Investment in logistics and infrastructures are crucial. Today, E.U. farmers are lagging behind the other competitors due to a lack of access to various factors vital for crop production, such as plant protection products, Schulman said.
Juan Corbalan, representing the Spanish agri-cooperatives, pinpointed the crucial role of cooperatives in collecting, distributing and organizing the flow of commodities to put them on the market. Furthermore, cooperatives are becoming more vertically integrated and innovative to support their members who are farmers and give them a better return for their produce. To be successful, Corbalan said industry needs to further develop the critical mass of cooperatives in the grain sector.
“Collectors and traders are the glue in the supply chain distributing goods, capacities and services,” said Oliver Balkhausen, COCERAL chairman of the Market and Agricultural Policy section. “Europe is a market in a global context, so technical barriers delaying or preventing the supply of raw materials to the E.U. chain partners jeopardize European competitiveness. Innovative toolboxes need to be available for a stable E.U. market.”
COCERAL and COPA & COGECA consequently call for new breeding techniques, sufficient plant production products and futures markets to help hedge against economic risks.
COCERAL is the European association of trade in cereals, rice, feedstuffs oilseeds, olive oil, oils and fats and agro-supply. It represents the interest of the European collectors, traders, importers, exporters and port silo storekeepers of the above mentioned agricultural products.
COPA & COGECA represents farmers and agri-cooperatives in the E.U. Together, they attempt to ensure that E.U. agriculture is sustainable, innovative and competitive, guaranteeing food security throughout Europe.