Quality standards and labels for development of sustainable food retail



TCRS Number:


Business sector:


Notice type:



TC Com approved

PSD disclosed:

20 Dec 2016

Project Description

The EBRD aims to support the development of sustainable food retail value chains by enhancing cooperation between its downstream and upstream segments, primarily through the implementation of public and private quality labels associated with environmental and social standards.

Consumers worldwide purchase an increasingly large share of their food products from large retail companies and their network of outlets. As such, the food retail sector has an important role in providing diversified and quality food to address consumers’ needs and specific demands. It also has a clear leverage to drive the upstream segments of the food value chains towards more sustainable practices, as a response to consumers’ evolving expectations. Consumers are increasingly requesting information on food origin as well as methods of production and marketing that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, i.e. that preserve natural and cultural resources (including biodiversity and animal welfare), and ensure a fair distribution of added value.

The adoption of different certification and labelling schemes by retailer companies has been a response to this growing demand as well as to the need for off-takers (e.g. wholesalers, retailers, food processors and producers, etc.) to implement quality assurance schemes to ensure food safety and traceability along the value chain. Quality labels represent important communication and a guarantee for consumers, as well as a strategic marketing tool for companies who aim to gain a competitive advantage in their market and increase their reputation.

Quality labels can therefore represent an incentive for off-takers to improve the sustainability of the value chains in which they are involved and boost local supply. Quality labels and associated certifications can provide economic benefits to retailers from different angles: product’s reputation, increased margin, market development, and enhanced corporate responsibility image. Suppliers can also benefit of the development of quality labels, through the establishment of positive backward linkages: better prices, lower costs, more predictable contractual arrangements, and quality improvements.

As a result of the growing complexity of available standards and labels, retail companies often face difficulties in selecting and implementing the most appropriate label and, more generally, the most effective path for increasing social and environmental sustainability. Transfers of best practices in this area, through the development of appropriate guidelines and tools, are needed to help retailers understand how to build strategies and processes that increase sustainability through the development of backward linkages and relevant labels taking into account the local context.

The TC supports the following strategic priorities of the Bank:

  • The Agribusiness strategy, highlighting the importance of boosting environmental sustainability and linkages along the value chain, specifically with suppliers and SMEs;
  • The Private Sector for Food Security Initiative, focusing on improving the investment environment, promoting competitiveness and supporting agribusiness development with a focus on modernisation and value-added.

Project Objectives

The Bank collects best practices on implementation of quality labels in the food retail sector and develops a package of TC options for retail companies to support sustainable value chains.

TC Recipient Information

Food Retail companies in the EBRD's Countries of Operation.

Project Cost

€ 377,967.71

Funding Summary

EBRD’s Special Shareholders Fund (SSF)

Any competitive selections for business opportunities relating to this project will be published on the EBRD's website: Consultancy Procurement Opportunities.

Email: eSelection@ebrd.com

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