On May 24, 2012, the European Competition Network (ECN) reported on enforcement and monitoring of competition in Europe’s food sector. The 155-page report appears under the heading “Sector reports” on the ECN’s website, at http://ec.europa.eu/competition/ecn/documents.html
The Report refers to concerns about the functioning of the European Union’s (EU) food supply chain. The Report discusses among other issues increased price volatility in the EU food sector that followed a “significant” increase in food prices after mid-2007. The Report notes (p. 15) a disconnect in the movements of agricultural commodity prices, food producer prices and consumer prices since mid-2007. Some national competition authorities (NCAs) believe that increased consolidation (e.g., creating cooperatives and other forms of cooperation among producers) would make the food sector function more competitively. These NCAs contend that “atomistic . . . primary production in combination with . . . small-scale farmers hamper[s] the overall competitiveness of the sector.” (p. 10)
The Report provides a wealth of data, graphs, tables and charts regarding the food supply chain, prices, antitrust investigations and antitrust cases undertaken by European competition authorities in the food sector since 2004. This information includes a country-by-country table of antitrust cases brought by NCAs and the European Commission and a list of food sector inquiries, market studies and consultative opinions reported by NCAs since 2004.