Following the publication of the report on competition law enforcement and market monitoring activities by European competition authorities in the food sector in May 2012, the European Commission is now launching a study to assess the impact of recent developments in the European retail sector on consumers.

In the context of rising food prices, volatile commodity markets and perceived concerns about the functioning of the overall food supply chain, the food sector clearly remains a priority for the European Commission and national competition authorities of the EU member states.

The final report of the study, which is expected by the end of 2013, will evaluate the impact of different actors in the food supply chain on the choice and innovation in recent years.

The study shall primarily focus on the the variety of products available to consumers in their shopping area  and introduction of retailers’ own brand (private label) products: It shall assess whether these factors negatively affected choice and innovation in the European food sector to the detriment of the final consumers. It will also look at the levels of retail concentration in consumer areas.

As the increasing popularity of the retailers’ own label products undoubtedly strengthens their bargaining power over suppliers, the study should also provide valuable information for assessment of unfair trading practices in the food sector. The outcomes of the study may have an impact on future legislation in this sector.