The European Commission published last week the results of a retail food study. The study "The economic impact of modern retail on choice and innovation in the EU food sector" has been jointly prepared by Ernst & Young, Cambridge Econometrics Ltd. and Arcadia International and for anyone interested in this sector and its developments it has a fascinating amount of data spread out on ca 450 pages (more than 300 shops analysed in 9 Member States with 23 product categories and for a period of time 2004-2012). What we can gather from the European Commission's press release is that there was a worry expressed by the traders active in the food supply chain that large retailers imposed detrimental conditions on their suppliers (a reason to adopt CESL?) and the latter ones were not able to invest in new products, which could lead to the reduction of choice and innovation in food products for EU consumers (Commission publishes results of retail food study). The main results as we could hear are:
- consumer choice continuously increases (more shops, products, brands, package sizes);
- number of innovations reaching consumer each year decreased since 2008 by 6.5%;
- most innovations nowadays concern the packaging;
- range of choice/innovation is related to the size and types of shops and the economic environment (e.g. whether the local area is high or low on unemployment, GDP per capita etc.), as well as to the turnover in a product category;
- more competition among shops leads to the introduction of more choice/ innovation;
- in moderately concentrated retail markets, retailers' stronger bargaining power in comparison with the supplier did not point to the reduction of choice and innovation in food products.
The last presented finding suggests that the assumption that led to this study might have been incorrect, so that the need to grant suppliers more protection in EU law might not necessarily be related to consumer protection. We will need to see what are the responses to this study (allowed to be submitted before 30 January 2015).