Food industry calls for a more balanced biofuel policy

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Biofuels European union Biofuel Ciaa

With the increasing use of some of their raw materials for the
production of biofuels, the foodindustry is calling on the European
Commission to take measures to ensure they do not face further
price hikes for their supplies.

The European Commission has proposed the bloc produces enough biofuels to reach a target of 10per cent of all vehicle fuel by 2020. Biofuels are produced from sugars, edible oils and grainssuch as corn. Use of biofuels instead of oil is seen as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissionsand the subsequent impact on climate change.

Recently the Association of Chocolate, Biscuits and Confectionery industries of the EuropeanUnion (Caobisco) and the International Margarine Association of the Countries of Europe (Imace)spoke out against the setting of a mandatory target, saying it will damage the food industry byleading to a "serious" shortage of raw materials and price hikes.

"Biodiesel is grabbing an increasing share of our vegetable oil supply. The competition will be seriously distorted if mandatory obligations are included for the mineral oil companies" said Inneke Herreman, Secretary General of IMACE.

Rapeseed oil price doubled over the last five years and the price of cereals, starches, and glucose recently increased byabout 20 per cent, the two organisations said in a joint statement. They blame governments and theEuropean Commission for promoting biofuels through tax incentives. High crude oil prices have alsostimulated production.

The result has been a growing conflict between the food and the energy industry forsupplies.

"The EU should eliminate compulsory set-aside, revise the whole system of import duties and trade barriers and expanding as much as possible the feedstock base for biofuels in order to reduce the pressure on the foodindustry,"​ Caobisco and Imace stated in a press release.

About 2,000 EU companies belong to Caobisco, whose members are major users of cereals, sugar, glucose and vegetable oils.Imace's members are major users of vegetable oils.

In a statement last year to the incoming German presidency of the EU, the Confederation of Food and Drink Industries of the EU(CIAA) also called on governments to promote the use of other alternative materials in the making ofbiofuels. The organisation says such a policy change toward a more balanced approach would take someof the pressure off the food industry.

"CIAA considers that a diversification of sources for the production of biofuels will avoid exacerbatingpressure on a single raw material supply and will prevent disruption in food markets,"​ theassocation stated. "The amendment of the technical standards, such as the EN14214 and the review of the animal by-products legislation mayallow for the broadening of possible sources."

Using agricultural land to grow bio-energy crops would also compete with the use of land for food and animal feedproduction, the CIAA stated in its memorandum.

According to the European Environment Agency biofuel crops would take up between 4 percent and 13 per cent of the total agriculture area of the EU-25 if the bloc were to reach the5.75 per cent initial target set for 1010 under the biofuels directive.

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