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Better deal for farmers but higher prices...

Discussions on state of food industry lead to new law rebalancing market with manufacturers and distributors

Better and healthier food should be on the menu as the five months of discussions on the state of the food industry draw to a close and the government prepares a new law.

New food safety controls and better quality products are promised as Prime Minister Eduard Philippe closes the Etats généraux de l'alimentation by revealing a series of projects to rebalance the market between food producers, manufacturers and distributors.

All sectors will be pushed to develop quality products such as organic or locally-produced and get consumers more involved while new rules restrict food promotions to halt price wars.

In a turnaround for the industry, farmers will now stipulate the prices for their goods based on the cost of production, rather than distributors spelling out the price they are prepared to pay.

Distributors will also be obliged to sell food products at a minimum of 10% over the price they paid to stop downward pressure on farm gate prices. Promotions will also be limited, to 34% of the normal price and 25% of the volume sold.

For school meals – but also for large-scale hospital and company kitchens – the aim is to have 50% of organic food and locally-produced ingredients before 2022.

There will also be a general aim to reduce pesticide use, starting with glyphosate, and a development plan for the organic industry will also be announced by spring next year.

Animal welfare is also included, with criminal penalties imposed for abuses.

The measures will be voted on by summer next year. They will be tested for two years to ensure that food producers get a fair return for their work and improve the situation where farmers earn, on average, just €350 a month.

At the end of the day, however, it will mean that prices in shops will probably go up.

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