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About the initiative

Diverging economic interests between the consumer and the operator give rise to competitive tensions within the Agro Food Chain.  Competition is a healthy economic driver, however, excessive price fluctuations cause tensions between the various links and may threaten the viability of a series of operators.

Why we have the Code

Today the market plays already a key role in the agricultural policy of the European Union. This will not be any different tomorrow. The supply will more and more be steered by the demand. Increasing volatility combined with the weak bargaining position of the agricultural sector exert pressure on the margins. In a free market price fluctuations mostly are useful to adapt production to market, and therefore to consumer need. Prices relate to the balance between supply and demand.

In the Agro Food Chain, there are considerable tensions between the economic interests of the consumer on the one hand and of the operators on the other hand. Competition is a healthy economic driver, but excessive price fluctuations are a scourge to any operator of the chain and can cause tensions between the various links and threaten the viability of a series of operators.

The signatory parties attach great importance to a strong partnership within the food chain, based on the three pillars of sustainable development (economic, ecological and social).  In order to better handle future problems, the undersigned organizations wish to improve collaboration and foster partnerships among all operators, while preserving contractual freedom.

This code of conduct for fair relationships between suppliers and purchasers is part of this dialogue.

The code of conduct was formally signed by the partners on 20 May 2010, revised and again approved on 10 June 2014.

 The text of the Code of Conduct is available in PDF in Dutch, French and English.

Content of the Code of Conduct

The code consists of a general introduction, the scope, the principles of good practices, procedures for dispute settlement, management and monitoring of the code, the tasks and responsibilities of the 'Committee'.

This code is complementary to the existing legislation, which remains in full force.

Implementing the code of conduct and its functioning

The code foresees in the implementation of the procedures by the 'Committee'.

The committee consists of representatives of the organisations that have signed the Code of Conduct.

The responsibilities of the 'Committee'

  • The Committee issues a yearly survey to the adherent companies on training, reporting on dispute resolution options and communication. The Committee writes based on the results of this survey and the contributions of sector organizations, an annual report in a generic way, without mention of individual names.
  • The Committee decides on any adjustment to the code.
  • The Committee deals with aggregated complaints.

Who can benefit from the system?

SMEs and LEs - Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and Large Enterprises who have joined the Code of Conduct.