Make food supply chains fairer - MEP

Jim Nicholson MLA in European Parliament
Jim Nicholson MLA in European Parliament

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has criticised unfair trading practices, and questioned the role of supermarkets when it comes to food waste.

His comments come after MEPs in the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee this week questioned the director general of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) on the future of agriculture.

Mr Nicholson, pictured, said: “The causes of food waste are multi-faceted, however in my mind there is a clear link between unfair trading practices in the food supply chain and food wastage on farm level.

“No farmer wants to produce waste. Farmers’ livelihoods depend on getting their product to market at a fair price. But time and time again we see that farmers have to search for secondary markets at short notice, or even plough their produce back into the soil, because the supermarket will not accept their product.

“The role of retailers when it comes to on-farm food waste is one of a number issues I identified when drafting the Agriculture Committee’s proposals on food waste earlier this year.”

Mr Nicholson added: “There is no silver bullet for tackling the problem, but there are a number of innovative solutions that can be explored. Farmer-led initiatives can and have offered viable economic solutions for products which might otherwise go to waste as well as socially innovative projects such as gleaning and offering food that might otherwise go to waste to food banks.

“This is not just a local, national or even European problem. It is a global issue, and I was glad to have the opportunity to raise these concerns with the head of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation this week.”