Half of unfair trading practices detected in the EU food supply chain in 2023 related to the late payment for perishable agri-food products, a new report has found.

The report on the implementation of EU rules against unfair trading practices found late payment of non-perishable agri-food products accounted for 13% of unfair trading practices in the EU last year.

Approximately 41% of the unfair practices detected last year were identified at retail level, down from 47% in 2022.

Some 36% of unfair practices were detected in the food industry, compared with 27% in 2022.

Wholesale trade accounted for 22% of unfair practices in 2023, up from 25% in 2022.

Some 17% of food supply chain investigations across the EU resulted in a fine in 2023.

Last year, around 1,500 investigations were opened across the bloc relating to unfair trading practices in the food supply chain.


As part of the report, a survey on unfair trading practices was conducted.

Over half of respondents (58%) did not know about national enforcement authorities.

On why they did not report an unfair trading practice they experienced, 30% said they feared retaliation from the buyer, while 23% said it is a common practice in the sector and 17% said the public enforcement authority would not be able to handle it.

Adopted in 2019, the so-called unfair trading directive bans 16 practices that can have harmful effects on the most exposed links in the food chain, notably farmers and smaller suppliers.

Black unfair trading practices

Prohibited whatever the circumstances:

  • Payments later than 30 days for perishable agri-food products.
  • Payments later than 60 days for non-perishable agri-food products.
  • Short-notice cancellations of perishable agri-food products.
  • Unilateral contract changes by the buyer.
  • Payment for unrelated services.
  • Risk of loss and deterioration transferred to the buyer.
  • Refusal of a written confirmation of supply agreements by the buyer, despite request of the supplier.
  • Misuse of trade secrets by the buyer.
  • Commercial retaliation by the buyer.
  • Transferring the costs of examining customer complaints to the supplier.
  • Grey unfair trading practices

    Prohibited only if not agreed beforehand in clear and unambiguous terms between the parties:

  • Buyer returns unsold products to the supplier.
  • Payment of the supplier for stocking, display and listing.
  • Payment of the supplier for promotion.
  • Payment of the supplier for advertising.
  • Payment of the supplier for marketing.
  • Payment of the supplier for staff of the buyer, fitting out premises.