MAC-Team

Food-Net / food-MAC network

food-MAC study 4: Consumer Needs & Preferences in agro-food sector

poster ConsumersToward a European Consumer Environment
The consumer issues are adequately structured in each country and well supported by both governmental and private organizations and programmes. Some countries have a long tradition on consumer rights and structures and very well established institutions, with Finland, France, Germany and Sweden showing a leading role. Some other countries, especially those who have recently joined the EU, are in the period of reorganization of their authorities and structures. The same applies for the actors involved in the consumer protection issues.

 

 

In several EU countries there are new emerging structures and systems (like Greenpeace, ATTAC, etc.) that are offering support to the consumer and “push“ the authorities to obtain and distribute the relevant information and regulations.
A good European Consumer Environment has been settled with some organizations like the EFSA-European Food Safety Agency having the leading role. Nevertheless, there is a need for continuous support (grants, programmes) training and networks in order to achieve a unified/coherent sustainable and strong European Consumer Environment.

SWOT analysis from the national surveys done in the participating countries.
Strengths:

  • Strong European Consumer Environment
  • Establishment of EFSA and National authorities
  • EU support to consumer associations
  • Implementation of quality assurance philosophy and systems.

Weaknesses:

  • Different structures established in each country
  • Lack of sufficient knowledge about the added value of innovative food
  • Insufficient nutritional patterns
  • Poor personnel training
  • Deficiencies of accreditation in quality assurance systems from small enterprises.

Opportunities:

  • Global approach
  • Consumer training
  • Collaboration between organizations and consumer associations
  • Harmonization among the countries
  • Sustainability of the consumer involvement
  • Collaboration between EU Member states - food networks.

Threats:

  • Economic barriers in the food consumption
  • Poor hazard analysis and management of food items coming from non-EU countries.
  • Danger from low cost and junk foods
  • Food related diseases
  • Difficulties of SMEs to survive in a highly competitive global environment.

Recommendations

  • Concerted actions on the basis of Multi Actor Cooperation programs.
  • Organization and upgrading of public and private structures who are offering support to the consumer and “push” the authorities to obtain and distribute the relevant information and regulations.
  • Global approach of the consumer demands, rights, and protection. This need leads also to the requirement of a harmonization of the procedures and measures applied in each EU country.
  • Collaboration of EU Member States, to fulfil the expressed need of sustainability.
  • Work towards the Commission’s proposal to operate under the highest standards of scientific excellence, independence and transparency for the consumer’s safety.
  • Although the Commission has taken measures to support the above mentioned recommendations (and fulfil the relative objective) with the establishment of structures like EFSA, there is a need for continuous support (grants, programs) training and networks (e.g. food-MAC), in order to achieve a unified, sustainable and strong European Consumer Environment.

The study report is available in the intranet section for the food-NET members.