EUDR market players: definitions and examples

Are you affected by the EUDR? And are you an operator or a trader? Or both?

If you are scratching your head about how to answer these questions, well you’re not the only one. EUDR has introduced a variety of obligations with potentially severe impacts on global supply chains, aiming to drastically decrease deforestation embodied in products on the EU market.

However, compared to the existing EUTR, the scope of affected actors has also been increased and it can be challenging to understand which role an organization plays in the EUDR context, as with new laws come new mysteries.

But do not worry, we are here to provide some clarity. In the next sections, we will dish out the official definitions with examples so that you can finally nail down these concepts once and for all.

Background information on the EUDR

First of all, EUDR applies to all companies that import to, place on, make available on or export from the EU market specific commodities – also referred to as “relevant products” and “relevant commodities” in the next paragraphs – namely coffee, cocoa, rubber, cattle, wood, palm oil and soy along with their derivatives, regardless of the EU or non-EU origins of the material. This applies whether the trade is made through traditional means or via online platforms, from the moment a product enters the market to the moment it is delivered to the final consumers. In this regard, also retailers fall under the influence of this regulation, although not explicitly mentioned.

The regulation distinguishes between two main categories of market players, “operators” and “traders”. Let’s see what they represent and what these actors need to do to be compliant with EUDR.

Who are the operators?

The definition of the term “operator” in the official text of the EU Deforestation-free Regulation is as follows.

where “placing on the market” means “the first making available of a relevant commodity or relevant product on the [European] Union market”.

Some more context is offered by the EU FAQs document, according to which any natural or legal person “which places a relevant product or commodity on the market for selling (with or without transformation) or as a gift, for processing or distribution to commercial or non-commercial consumers, or use in the context of its commercial activities will be subject to the due diligence requirements and present the due diligence statement”.

A helpful rule of thumb you can use is that if a product has not been subject to due diligence in any earlier step of the supply chain, then the company that sells to either commercial or non-commercial entities is considered an operator and therefore has to provide a due diligence statement.

All things considered, it is a solid, yet not exhaustive approximation to define operators as importers and exporters. To make an example, an operator is a company that imports cocoa butter to be sold to other enterprises or to final consumers that are present in the EU market.

Why do we define our previous approximation as not exhaustive? Because, as briefly mentioned above, the definition of operators also refers to enterprises that transform one relevant product or commodity into another relevant product and place them for the first time in the market. For example, if a company X, based in Brazil, exports cocoa butter to Europe and company A, based in the EU, imports cocoa butter, EUDR would consider only company A as an operator. In addition, if company B, also based in the EU, uses that cocoa butter to produce chocolate and places it on the market, company B has created a new product with an HS code different from the cocoa butter HS code that is commercialised for the first time, therefore it will also be considered an operator. Finally, also company C, based in EU, which buys chocolate from company B and exports it outside Europe qualifies as an operator.

If we summarize all this information in bullet points, we can give our definition of operators:

  • Importers of relevant commodities and products into the European market
  • Exporters of relevant commodities and products from the European market
  • Companies converting the goods and products concerned from one in-scope HS code to another in-scope HS code and placing them on the European market for the first time

Who are the traders?

The official definition of the term “trader” found in the legal text is as follows.

where “making available on the market” means “any supply of a relevant product for distribution, consumption or use on the market of the [European] Union market […], whether in return for payment or free of charge”.

This definition gives already an important suggestion on how to identify traders by providing a new, straightforward rule of thumb: traders are supply chain players that cannot be considered operators.

Going back to the example about the cocoa companies, we can state that a company D that buys the chocolate from operator B based in the EU and, without transforming it, distributes it to supermarket chains is considered a trader.

Again, in bullet points, we can state that traders are:

  • Dealers and distributors that do not import, export or transform relevant commodities or products, but are involved in their trade and distribution in the European market.

Obligations: Size matters in the EUDR

Obligations of operators and traders vary according to their size. The so-called SMEs are micro, small, and medium enterprises, as opposed to large companies. Article 3 of Directive 2013/34/EU gives clear definitions of when a company can be considered a micro, small, or medium enterprise. In particular, it states that:

  • An organisation is regarded as a microenterprise if the balance sheet total does not exceed € 350,000, the net turnover does not exceed € 700,000 and the average number of employees during the financial year is equal to or lower than 10.
  • An organisation is regarded as a small enterprise if the balance sheet total does not exceed € 4,000,000, the net turnover does not exceed € 8,000,000 and the average number of employees during the financial year is equal to or lower than 50.
  • An organisation is regarded as a medium enterprise if the balance sheet total does not exceed € 20,000,000, the net turnover does not exceed € 40,000,000 and the average number of employees during the financial year is equal to or lower than 250.

At least 2 of the 3 thresholds per category must be met to qualify for the respective type of organisation.

The EU Deforestation-free Regulation provides that operators and non-SME traders have to scrutinise their supply chains to ensure that the relevant commodities are not linked to deforestation, forest degradation, or illegal practices, by collecting necessary information, conducting a risk assessment, and eventually filing a due diligence statement. On the other hand, SME traders are only responsible for storing specific information about their supply chains and passing it on to market operators or authorities if required.

Do you have questions about EUDR? We are happy to help!

If you are affected by the EUDR and need a simple and cost-effective solution for compliance, please contact us. We would be happy to introduce you to RADIX Tree and your options with this affordable but powerful tool.


SME operators benefit from an exception (paragraph 8 of Article 4, EUDR), stating that they are not required to issue a due diligence statement for relevant products or commodities for which a due diligence statement has already been submitted to authorities. They shall only present the reference number of the due diligence statement if requested by competent authorities.

There exists a second exception that is worth mentioning. In the hope of avoiding double due diligence, EUDR declares that in case of non-SME operators further down the supply chain, meaning those companies that are not importers or exporters but ‘transformers’ of relevant products and commodities, can use the due diligence carried out earlier in the supply chain by other operators and submit the relevant reference number for the parts of their relevant products that were already subject to due diligence.

In both cases, not only do companies remain obliged to ascertain that due diligence was performed, but it is of the utmost importance that they are also able to track this data and easily retrieve it when needed.

Mixed case: obligations where a company is both an operator and a trader

Given the complexity of today’s global supply chains, we can assume that black-and-white situations are not the norm. In particular, it can often occur that a company might be the operator for some commodities and the trader for others. Scenarios like this can be frequent because most commodities affected by the regulation stem from fragmented and dynamic supply chains. Imagine, for example, a coffee company that is importing and selling beans from outside the EU but is also buying and selling roasted beans from an EU-based roaster: based on the first commercial activity, this company would be considered an operator, but based on the second commercial activity, it qualifies also as a trader.

In the operator role, the organization is obliged to submit a due diligence statement that must be based on information gathering, risk assessment and (if needed) risk mitigation.

In the trader role, the organization is obliged to submit a due diligence statement but have the option to refer to existing upstream due diligence statements instead of carrying out their own risk assessment, however, they will stay legally liable for their negligible risk conclusion (Article 4, Paragraphs 9 and 10).

RADIX Tree is a multi-compliance, flexible solution for EUDR compliance

At Global Traceability Solutions, we solve regulatory and supply chain complexity with a simple yet effective solution, RADIX Tree.

RADIX Tree is an intuitive platform that combines flexibility with smart automation, while being able to manage simultaneously multi-compliance frameworks. It allows you to map your entire supply chain, offering you full control of your order pipelines and traceability data.

If you want to learn more about how RADIX Tree can help you navigate EUDR compliance, whether you are an operator, trader, or both, we are here to help. You can either click on this link to find immediately more information or you can reach out to us by filling in the “Request a Demo” and specifying your needs in the message so that we can select the most appropriate expert to get back to you, based on your requirements.