Seeking Leaders for Global Change

Spotlight On: foodwatch International — The fight for safe, healthy and affordable food

Written by Mission Talent Team

Mission Talent is currently searching for a new Executive Director for foodwatch International. 
foodwatch International is a consumer rights organisation that fights for safe, healthy and affordable food for everyone that harms neither people nor the environment.  The organisation challenges food industry practices that violate the rights or interests of consumers, and acts as a counterweight to the powerful industry lobby, with the aim of influencing decision-makers to address loopholes in European and national food policies. 

The organisation was created 18 years ago in Berlin. Today, they operate at national and European level; foodwatch Netherlands has been active since 2010 and foodwatch France officially opened its doors in 2014. The launch of more offices, like Austria, is currently under development. 

Currently, foodwatch has its eye on the CETA negotiations. With the EU negotiating more than two dozen Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), the ones of particular interest to foodwatch are the so-called “new generation” FTAs. These are agreements such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada. foodwatch works around these negotiations to raise awareness that all trade deals must be negotiated transparently and creates fair trade conditions.
In 2019, when it was revealed that Coca-Cola was sponsoring the Romanian Presidency of the EU, foodwatch submitted a complaint to the EU Ombudsman. The incumbent Executive Director and founder of foodwatch International, Thilo Bode, stated at the time that “Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of one of the major political bodies in Europe is unacceptable. This damages the independence and credibility of politics.” 

foodwatch is also tackling the issue of excess packaging for food and beverages, which is not only damaging to the environment but also toxic to human health. Many packages use printing inks which contain mineral oil and up to 200 other chemical substances, and even packaging made from recycled waste paper has been proven toxic. 

Pesticides are also on foodwatch’s agenda. The European pesticide industry is selling toxic products to third countries which are banned in the EU. foodwatch has launched an international petition urging companies to immediately stop the production, sale and export of these pesticides. Furthermore, foodwatch has called upon the European Commission for stronger regulation on pesticide exports to protect people and the environment – regardless of their location.
At the core of foodwatch’s activities, are the themes of transparency and democracy. foodwatch does not accept any funding from governments or industries and is solely financed through membership fees and donations. Their independence means that they are free to choose their target campaigns and consider where they can make the most impact. 

As it approaches its twentieth anniversary, the appointment of a new executive director to replace the founder represents a new phase in the life of the organisation. Over the next few years, the organisation will be reviewing its governance structures and strengthening its campaigning across Europe. Working with a vibrant and passionate team, the new executive director will surely play a pivotal role defining the future of the organisation and for consumers across Europe. 

Mission Talent Team