Fruits and vegetables

Achieving a balance in trade relations in the agricultural sector and healthy and sustainable food

The bill to achieve a balance in trade relations in the agricultural sector and healthy and sustainable food, a result of the French National Food Conference, has been definitively adopted by Parliament.
 

WHAT DOES THIS INVOLVE?


Announced on the closing day of the French National Food Conference (EGAlim), the roadmap supports the Government’s food policy, which is structured around three strategic aims:

  • Guarantee France’s food sovereignty
  • Promote healthy food choices that respect the environment
  • Reduce inequality in accessing good quality, sustainable food

The bill is the primary tool for implementing this roadmap.

The bill has three objectives:

  • Pay fair prices to producers, allowing them to earn a decent living from their work
  • Reinforce the health, environmental and nutritional quality of products
  • Promote healthy, safe and sustainable food for all

Ensure farmers a decent living through a better distribution of value

  • Reverse the price construction process: the contract and price associated will be proposed by farmers, taking production costs into account. They will be able to influence negotiations through the formation of producer organisations and the strengthening of inter-branch organisations.
  • The inter-branch organisations must develop and disseminate production cost "benchmarks" and market indicators to assist them in trade negotiations.
  • The resale-below-cost threshold will be raised by 10% on foodstuffs, on a trial basis for a period of two years. This must facilitate the rebalancing of margins in favour of farmers and SMEs.
  • Controls and sanctions are included for failure to comply with the provisions. Mediation will also be strengthened, in order to improve the effectiveness of the provisions set out in the law on trade relations.
  • The regulation of promotions, in terms of value and volume, once again on a trial basis over two years, will be introduced for foodstuffs. This will ensure better compensation for farmers and SMEs in the agrifood sector. While "buy 1 get 1 free" will end, "buy 2 get 1 free" will still be possible.
  • The bill proposes to enable the Government to legislate by Ordinance on the resale-below-cost threshold and the regulation of promotions. Ordinances will be issued taking into consideration the progress made by stakeholders in achieving their commitments to change their practices.
  • Price renegotiations will be facilitated in the event of large fluctuations in the cost of raw materials and energy.

Improve the health and environmental conditions of production

  • Ban on neonicotinoids and all products with the same mode of action to fight biodiversity loss and protect bees.
  • Separation of sales and consultancy activities in respect of plant protection products, and a ban on discounts, rebates and price reductions on these products for better control over their use.
  • Suspension of the use of titanium dioxide in food products. This substance has no nutritional value and is only used for aesthetic purposes.
  • Protection of residents living near plant protection processing sites.

Improve animal welfare

  • Extension of the offence of animal cruelty with sentences doubled (increasing from 6 months’ imprisonment and a fine of €7,500 to 1 year and a fine of €15,000).
  • Animal welfare organisations will be able to bring civil actions when official inspections uncover animal abuse.
  • An animal welfare officer with whistleblower status will be appointed to every abattoir.
  • Trialling of video surveillance in abattoirs.
  • Ban on putting into use new or redeveloped farm buildings for caged egg-laying hens.

Promote healthy, safe and sustainable food for all

  • 50% of products will be local or origin and quality certified (including organic products) in public sector mass catering from 1 January 2022.
  • The fight against food waste will be stepped up, with the possibility of making food donations being extended to the mass catering sector and agrifood industry.
  • The obligation for restaurants to provide doggy bags.
  • Honey will benefit from labelling indicating its origin thereby ensuring consumers are better informed about the origin of honey composed of blends from different countries.

Reduce the use of plastic in the food sector

  • Ban on plastic food containers for cooking, reheating and serving in relation to mass catering in local authorities in 2025.
  • Ban on plastic stirrers and straws in restaurants, take-away outlets, canteens and food shops in 2020.
  • Ban on plastic bottles in school canteens in 2020.

WHY?

Food sovereignty is based on preserving agricultural production capacity. Today however, French agriculture has been weakened.

Even though it continues to lead in the field of production, both in terms of volume and value, our agricultural sector has for many years been suffering from a "price war" and a move upmarket which does not adequately meet the legitimate expectations of the consumer. It is these two handicaps which must be remedied.
 

It is therefore essential to put an end to this "price war" which has led to the impoverishment of producers and the weakening of entire sections of the French agri-food industry.

The Government’s food policy also aims to promote food choices which protect the health capital of every individual as well as our shared environmental capital.

Finally, food policy must be a factor in reducing social inequalities by enabling everyone to access healthy, safe and sustainable food.


ACTION TAKEN


02 October 2018: the bill is definitively adopted by Parliament.
 

15 September 2018: the bill is approved at its second reading in the National Assembly.

30 May 2018: the bill passes its first reading in the National Assembly.

31 January 2018: presentation of the bill during the Council of Ministers.

21 December 2017: close of the EGAlim and publication of the Government’s roadmap.

20 July 2017: opening of the EGAlim (French National Food Conference).