Agricultural producers are demanding a shared responsibility mechanism from the European Union. Faced with the rising costs related to private certifications, producers question the lack of a scheme that distributes these costs fairly among all actors in the value chain. In this regard, they point to an abuse of power by large European distributors, who demand "voluntary" certifications from producers to market in the EU (de facto mandatory), while reducing the price paid to the producer.
The Socialist MEP, Monica Silvana, aware of the impact of these certifications in the context of banana production in Latin America, has asked the Commission if they "consider the possibility of developing a mandatory system of Shared Responsibility to distribute the costs related to sustainability along the production chain in a more transparent and fairer way".
The arrival of this parliamentary question highlights the challenge that these certifications pose for both European and third-country farmers. In an ecosystem where European supermarkets are demanding lower prices, but are increasingly demanding higher standards and sustainability requirements, farmers are bearing the costs of certifications on their shoulders.
Currently, European Union member countries consume 6.5 million tons of bananas per year, 75% of which come from Latin America. In Ecuador, for example, banana production represents 3% of GDP and generates 2.5 million jobs. Despite this, like many other industries, the costs and investments related to sustainability requirements are mostly covered by the producers themselves, which in 95% of cases are small and medium-sized.
In the words of the Spanish MEP, private certification bodies do not provide a framework for the distribution of these costs, nor is there any European legislation in this regard (only a Commission Communication from 2010).
For more information:
Inés Domènech Canadell
EU Public Affairs
Tel: +32 2511 6527