Industry leaders have called on Poland to make it easier for food and beverage manufacturers to innovate by creating “a more business-friendly framework throughout the European Union” when it takes over the presidency of the European Commission on July 1.

The appeal was made by pan-EU trade body FoodDrinkEurope, which operated as CIAA until June 23, when the organization changed its name as part of a re-branding exercise.

Jesús Serafín Pérez, president of FoodDrinkEurope, said: “Innovation is central to the sustainable growth of the food industry, from an operators’ ability to bring a new product to market, to unlocking new opportunities for more environmentally sustainable products and processes.

“Bolstering manufacturers’ capacity to innovate to meet the challenges ahead will enable Europe’s food and drink industry to be better placed to play an important role in delivering on the objectives of the EU 2020 Strategy, namely smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.”

Food and beverage businesses are facing increasing pressure from new legislation in the EU at present. Many are struggling to adapt to life under the infamous Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation, the implications of which are expected to be felt in full within a year from now. There is also mounting concern about the draft Food Information to Consumers Regulation, which includes several radical changes to labeling requirements.

Meanwhile, a recent attempt to simplify and speed up the process for assessing and approving novel foods hit the buffers following a row over meat from cloned animals. The failure of talks over this issue means companies wishing to gain novel food approval will be forced to continue to put up with the existing approval process, which can take up to three years to reach a conclusion.

Poland's presidency of the European Commission runs from July 1 to December, 31 2011.