EU Legislates for Fairness in Food Supply Chains

Small-scale farmers in developing countries stand to benefit from rules agreed today in a landmark new EU Directive.  

The Directive means that each EU Member State will have to introduce a public enforcement authority that will support fairer relationships between suppliers and buyers of food, specifically tackling a number of the most common and harmful practices.  

Food production is rife with inequality and unfairness, with small-scale farmers and small businesses vulnerable to bullying practices from the large retailers and brands that they sell to. These practices can include late payments or last-minute cancellation of orders. Such practices ultimately lead to unsustainable supply chains in which small-scale farmers and SMEs are unable to generate fair returns. For many producers this means hunger, poverty, and inability to afford to meet high standards of food quality and environmental protection.   

Tom Wills, Policy Advisor at Traidcraft Exchange, said: “As consumers, we should celebrate efforts to ensure that the food on our shelves is produced without human suffering. It is particularly welcome that this Directive extends to producers selling into the EU from overseas. Big brands and retailers have been able to get away with abusive practices for too long, and this law will help rebalance power in favour of vulnerable farmers in developing countries.”  

Today’s announcement has huge implications for UK food businesses, even if the UK leaves the EU and does not have to apply the Directive itself.  

Tom Wills goes on to say: “Post-Brexit UK farmers and businesses exporting to the European market will be able to access protections under the terms of this Directive if they have been unfairly treated. The Directive also includes those buying food intended for the EU market - so a UK business that is going to export to the EU will need to ensure that they purchase fairly from their own suppliers.”  


For more information contact Tom Wills: or +44 (0)7757 753 318 

Notes to editors 

  • Traidcraft Exchange is an international development charity which uses the power of trade to bring about lasting solutions to poverty. It runs development programmes in South Asia and Africa, works directly with businesses to improve their supply chains, and does advocacy and campaigning in the UK to promote justice and fairness in international trade. It works closely with specialist fair trade company Traidcraft plc. Traidcraft Exchange is a registered charity, no. 1048752:

J McNaughton