Insight – New EU Code of Conduct has implications for Australian exporters

On 5 July 2021, the European Commission implemented the European Union (EU) Code of Conduct for Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices (the Code).

The Code encourages actors ‘between the farm and fork’ to voluntarily commit to actions that improve their sustainability performance. These actors include food processors, food service operators and retailers.

There is demand for transparency into the sustainability credentials of food products in the EU. The Code (developed by the European Commission) and the ‘Eco-score’ (developed by the EU private sector) are responding to this demand.

Implications for exporters

Exporters should monitor commitments their importers make in areas such as:

  • animal welfare
  • sugar reduction
  • cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

These actions may affect supply chains and opportunities in the EU market.

The European Commission’s website has information for businesses interested in making commitments under the Code.

Summary of the Code

The Code contains seven ‘aspirational objectives’, including:

  • preventing and reducing food loss and waste
  • a climate-neutral food chain in Europe by 2050
  • sustainable sourcing in food supply chains.

The Code aims to improve sustainability in organisations’ operations and throughout the supply chain.

Adherence to this Code is voluntary and complements compliance with existing legal obligations.

The Code is one of the first outcomes of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy.

Signatories to the Code

EU associations and individual companies can become signatories to the Code. They become signatories by making commitments that will contribute towards the Code’s objectives.

To date, there are 78 signatories to the Code. These include major brands such as:

  • Archer Daniels Midland
  • Bayer
  • Carrefour
  • Coca-Cola Europe
  • Colruyt
  • Nestlé.

More businesses are expected to follow.

Coca-Cola has given an insight on initiatives that may lay ahead. It has pledged to reduce average added sugars in soft drinks by 10% by 2025. This applies to the EU and the United Kingdom.   

Resources

Find out more about the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices.

More information about individual countries in the EU is available on Austrade’s website.

The Australian Government’s network of Agriculture Counsellors provided information for this article. More information about the Agriculture Counsellor network, including contact details, is available on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.

Market overview

  • The EU is Australia’s 7th most valuable agriculture, fisheries and forestry export market. It is worth an average of A$2.2 billion from 2017 to 2020 (Source: ABS 2021).
  • The EU is a high-value market where the following are important considerations for consumers:
    • social licence
    • sustainability
    • genetically modified organisms
    • animal welfare
    • environmental protection.
  • Australia is negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU. Once in force, the Australia-EU FTA will provide Australian exporters with a competitive edge. It will also provide more choice about where they do business.