The EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices is one of the first deliverables of the Farm to Fork Strategy and an integral part of its action plan. It sets out the actions that the actors ‘between the farm and the fork’, such as food processors, food service operators and retailers, can voluntarily commit to undertake to tangibly improve and communicate their sustainability performance. These actions can be directly relevant and implementable within their own operations or may encourage collaboration with industry peers and other food system stakeholders (such as farmers and consumers) to make similar changes. The Code of entered into force on 5 July 2021.
The EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices contains a set of 7 aspirational objectives as voluntary commitments for action together with a monitoring and evaluation framework to measure progress. The Commission will consider legislative measures if progress is insufficient. The process to develop the Code of Conduct started in December 2020. Based on a concept note prepared by the Commission, a technical meeting gathered a large number of stakeholders from representative industry associations as well as from NGOs to discuss the way forward.
To formally launch the process for developing the Code of Conduct, a High-level stakeholder event took place on 26 January 2021 with interventions from Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, MEP Herbert Dorfmann (rapporteur for the Farm to Fork Strategy at the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development), MEP Sarah Wiener (shadow rapporteur for the Farm to Fork Strategy at the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) and industry players.
On 5 July 2021, a High-level celebratory stakeholder event formally launched the entry into force of the Code. On that day 65 signatories (23 associations and 42 companies) signed the Code and committed to help accelerate the needed transformation.
What does the Code of Conduct contain?
The Code includes a set of 7 aspirational objectives, each with specific targets and a list of indicative, tangible and measurable actions, which actually contribute to a food environment that makes healthy and sustainable food choices easier. Commitments may take the form of a declaration of engagement and actions in major areas, together with an agreement to move towards higher levels of ambition within a defined timeframe. For the more advanced who wish to make greater commitments, the Code also includes a framework for more ambitious, measurable actions.
High-level stakeholder celebratory event marking the launch of the Code of Conduct
The European Commission, alongside industry stakeholders, launched on 5 July 2021 the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices, one of the first deliverables under the Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy. On the occasion of the launch, a high level stakeholder event was being organised with a keynote address from the Commissioner for Health and Food Stella Kyriakides, as well as video messages from the Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton. The Code was presented by Dirk Jacobs, the Chair of the Task Force that developed the the Code of Conduct. This Code is an essential part of the efforts to increase the availability and affordability of healthy, sustainable food options that help reduce our overall environmental footprint. It has been developed with EU associations and companies, as well as international organisations, NGOs, trade unions and trade associations. Associations and companies in the food sector that sign the Code voluntarily commit to accelerate their contribution to a sustainable transition.
On the day of the launch of the Code, 65 signatories (26 food manufacturers, 15 food retailers, 1 from the food service sector, 23 associations) became the first pioneering companies and associations
Please be informed that the closure date for receiving new pledges prior to the UN FSS Pre-Summit is set at Friday 16 July cob. Pledges received after that date will be taken into account for the UN FSS Summit in September.
Signatories who wished to send an update to their report were requested to submit any update by 31 July 2022.
- Ahold Delhaize
- ANCC - Coop Italia
- Archer Daniels Midland
- Arla Foods
- Asahi Europe & International
- Brewers of Europe
- Central England Coop
- Coop Sweden
- Dawn Meats
- EU Specialty Food Ingredients
- European Flour Millers
- Food Supplements Europe
- 2021 - Monitoring our contribution to the SDGs - Grupo Apex
- Grupo IFA
- Hilton Food Group
- ICA Gruppen
- Independent Retail Europe
- Jeronimo Martins
- Kerry Group
- Mattoni 1873
- Metro AG
- Midcounties Coop
- Mondelez International
- Pernod Ricard
- Primary Food processors
- REWE Group
- Serving Europe
- SONAE MC
- Specialised Nutrition Europe
- Suntory Beverage & Food Europe
- Tegut... gute Lebensmittel GmbH & Co. KG
- Vall Companys
- WFA - Responsible Marketing Pact (RMP)
- WFA - EU Pledge
Many SMEs, despite not having the same resources as larger companies, are nonetheless also leading the way in terms of sustainability. They can sign the Code and benefit from initiatives such as:
- Enterprise Europe Network, and especially its sustainability advisors to assess SMEs needs and identify their priorities;
- European Cluster Collaboration Platform, facilitate information exchange and create business opportunities across Europe, to ensure collaboration along the food supply chain for a green transition for the agri-food ecosystem;
- European Resource Efficiency Knowledge Centre (EREK) provides case studies on efficient and competitive sustainability technologies for agri-food operators.
In this way, SMEs who sign up to the - objectives in the Code can be part of the community leading the sustainability transition in the agri-food ecosystem, benefit from knowledge sharing around best practices, and information on how to exploit the services provided by the EU to support SMEs in their sustainability journey.
Moreover, some flexibility in terms of monitoring and reporting is foreseen for SMEs: those which are not able to report annually could provide simplified reports once every two or three years on their commitments and data corresponding to their activities.
Code of Conduct contacts
Stakeholders wishing to sign the Code should submit:
- a document outlining their support to the Code (for associations), their concrete commitments (for companies) or any other type of support (for other stakeholders). For reasons of data protection, please do not include an actual signature in the aforementioned document.
- a high resolution logo
- Associations wishing to sign the Code, should also inform us if they are a member of another (umbrella) association that has already signed the Code. In this case, the member association can still sign the Code but should provide concrete commitments, (e.g. sector guidelines, roadmaps, studies) or ambitious commitments on behalf of their members, as is outlined in section 1.4 of the Code. This is also the case for national associations.
UN Food Systems Summit
- Pre-Summit – 26-28 July 2021
- Invitation to the affiliated session to the Pre-Summit on the Code of conduct
- Factsheet: the multi-stakeholder approach to design the Code
- Factsheet: global outreach
During the EU Industry Days 2022, the Commission organized an event about the Code of Conduct with signatories FoodDrinkEurope, Copa-Cogeca, UNESDA, Ahold Delhaize and Arla Foods.
Recording: EU Industry Days 2022 – Greening Your Plate with G. Colombo - YouTube
In the months leading up to June 2021, the Commission organised several meetings with a broad range of stakeholders to discuss the Code and its content.
The first such meeting was held on 23 February 2021.
To ensure transparency in the process, meeting reports are published on this website.
- 29 March – Collaborative Platform meeting
- Presentation - Update from the Commission on outreach activities
- Presentation - EU Code of Conduct for responsible food business and marketing practices
- Presentation - EU Code of Conduct on responsible food business and marketing practices - "Mapping" study
- Presentation - The Enterprise Europe Network & Sector Group AgriFood
- Recording of the meeting
There have been three types of meetings: High level event meetings, General stakeholder meetings and Task Force Thematic Sessions
- 5 July - High-level celebratory event on the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices
- 26 January - High-level launch event on the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices
- 16 June
- 31 May
- 27 April
- 30 March
- 23 February - EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices
- Roadmap on the Code of conduct (Working rules may slightly be adapted as the process unfolds)
- Outcome of the Business @ Biodiversity Platform brainstorming (16 February 2021) on elements that should be incorporated in the Code of Conduct” (The B@B Platform and/or its individual members may contribute other suggestions to the development of the Code, as the process unfolds)
- Presentation - Building blocks for a nature positive Code of Conduct
- Presentation - Towards the content of the Code of Conduct
- 29 April - Thematic session 4: Monitoring and Evaluation
- 21 April - Thematic session 3: Improving the sustainability of the food value chain - in relation to primary producers and other actors in the chain
- 15 April - Thematic session 2: Improving the Impact of food processing, retail and food services’ own operations on sustainability
- 8 April - Thematic session 1: Food consumption patterns (for healthy and sustainable diets)
- 31 March - Thematic session 4: Monitoring and Evaluation
- 25 March - Thematic session 3: Improving the sustainability of the food value chain - in relation to primary producers and other actors in the chain
- 23 March - Thematic session 2: Improving the Impact of food processing, retail and food services’ own operations on sustainability
- 17 March - Thematic session 1: Food consumption patterns (for healthy and sustainable diets)
- 11 March - Thematic session 4: Monitoring and Evaluation
- 10 March - Kick off task force meeting on the Code of Conduct