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EU agricultural product promotional measures to be expanded

The EC has announced plans to expand and refocus its information and promotion policy for European agricultural and food products. The budget is to be increased threefold (from 61 million to 200 million) with a stronger focus on external markets (i.e. funding support extended to externally oriented programmes will increase from the average of 30% of the total over the 200111 period). Externally focused programmes may receive up to 60% funding (up from 50%), with producer organisations now being allowed to directly benefit.

Annual priorities for funding will be set to ensure a more comprehensive approach, with funded activities intended to act as key for opening up new markets, particularly those covered by newly concluded EU trade agreements.

More products are also to be eligible for support including processed products (so-called non-annex I products). Programmes must, however, have a specific European dimension (i.e. they must be in line with the policy emphasis on safe products, produced according to high European quality standards). According to EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolo, the European agricultural and agri-food sector is well known for the unrivalled quality of its products and its compliance with standards that are unmatched anywhere else in the world. Current exports are worth 110 billion per annum.

Programmes implemented under this policy aim to increase consumer awareness of the characteristics of EU products. The types of activities that can be supported include advertising campaigns, point of sale promotions, public relations campaigns, participation in exhibition and trade fairs and similar activities.

The EC is to provide increased technical support for activities targeting third-country markets, for example by compiling business data on foreign markets. A delegated executive agency is to be set up to manage the expanded programme, with the aim of increasing the ECs expertise in this area.

A threefold justification for the expanded EU programme is advanced:

  1. The EUs major commercial partners all extensively use promotional tools.
  2. There are new export opportunities in third countries arising as a result of shifting patterns of global demand (particularly with regard to Asia).
  3. New export opportunities are arising for EU agro-food exporters as a result of the conclusion of EU FTA agreements (with a current value for agro-food products of 35 billion but with scope for a significant increase).

This is considered to be a strategic and pivotal opportunity for the European agri-food sector that should be seized through an ambitious and innovative policy.

The EU programme is in addition to national member states programmes for the promotion of agro-food sector products.