Harmonization of vegetarian and vegan labeling is needed to keep pace with plant-based innovation, reports EVU

Oct. 27, 2021 — The European Vegetarian Union (EVU) calls on the European Commission to harmonize the labeling rules for vegetarian and vegan foods. The renewed urgency comes from the fact that it has been an entire decade since the Food Information to Consumers Regulation was enacted (25 October 2011), which urged the EC to implement dietary criteria for vegans and vegans. vegetarians in voluntary labeling.

The EC had set the agenda at a meeting of the food information working group at the end of 2019, but has not taken up the subject since then and, according to the EVU, the Commission is not fulfilling its obligations. to ratify the labeling rules.

And, EVU believes that the tenth anniversary of the Food Information Regulation is “a great opportunity to continue.”

The European Vegetarian Union is the voice of Europeans who choose vegetarian and vegan products over foods of animal origin.Talk to FoodIngredientsFirst, Ronja Berthold, Head of Public Affairs, said: “There is no deadline for this implementing act and therefore the Commission did not consider this subject to be a high priority and dismissed it for consideration. more urgent matters from the Commission’s point of view. . “

“There is a lot of innovation and potential, and we should introduce this basic element of vegetarian legislation so as not to fall behind in the development of the market.”

FoodIngredientsFirst contacted the EC for further comments.

Too hard to work with?
The EC might also consider this type of basic legislation to be quite difficult, concedes Berthold.

“We believe, however, that this is neither unimportant food labeling legislation nor too difficult to craft. There is a large consensus among consumers and industry, and we even already have an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard, ”she explains.

Over the past decade, the EVU has repeatedly reminded the EC of its duty to the food industry and consumers.

Berthold emphasizes: “It is important for the industry, as well as for consumers, to have harmonized rules for voluntary vegan and vegetarian labels so that they have confidence in the food they buy.

She adds that it will also help producers to have more legal certainty, to be able to label more and more precisely, and consumers can also be sure of the specific standards that must be applied, no matter where and with what labels they buy these foods.

“Now is the time to move forward because the tenth anniversary of the Call for Execution is a great opportunity to resume work on this topic, and more and more vegan and vegetarian products are coming out. produced and sold throughout the EU, ”she urges.

“Moreover, if harmonized rules are drawn up for the EU’s internal market, it could mean that they have more chances or more confidence to sell and manufacture their products across Europe.”

A boost for the EU’s farm-to-fork strategy?
Last week, the European Parliament released a report outlining areas for improvement in the ‘farm-to-fork strategy’, initially proposed by the European Commission in May 2020.

According to the EVU, the EC is currently invoking the obligations of its farm-to-fork strategy as a reason for not pursuing the implementing act. The European Parliament recently published a report outlining areas for improvement in the ‘Farm to Fork Strategy’.

However, the resolution recently adopted by the European Parliament on a farm-to-fork strategy “further calls for the long-awaited harmonization of labeling requirements for vegetarian and vegan foods to be proposed without further delay”, states- she does.

The European Parliament and the EVU recognize that the implementing act is an integral part of farm-to-fork legislation.

Berthold believes that the subject of labeling of vegetarian and vegan foods can be “well integrated into the farm-to-plate strategy, as the strategy aims for a more sustainable European food system, with a shift from diet to food. more plant-based, which is both beneficial for as well as planetary health.

“We hope this is another reason for the industry at large to consider producing and selling more vegan and vegetarian foods, that it has that signaling effect.”

“We expect the next French Presidency of the Council to take up the subject and put it on the Brussels agenda,” she adds.

“The average European eats too much food of animal origin and not enough food of plant origin,” says Berthold. “Foods of plant origin also compare favorably to foods of animal origin when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. We believe that better information and more clarity for vegan and vegetarian labeling will help make this diet change. “

Consistent with these themes, “Shared Planet” tops Innova Market Insights’ top ten trends for 2022, highlighting that consumers are now placing planetary health at the top of their agenda, moving beyond personal health, which has been the top priority. absolute in recent years.

With personal health and global sustainability proving to be powerful drivers of consumer choice, plant-based R&D has shifted from imitating meat, fish and dairy to optimization and diversification of options.

According to data from Innova Market Insights, the desire for diet variation led to a 59% increase in new herbal product launches in the year through August 2021.

Wider market development
Berthold supports this notion, further stating that the appetite for vegetarian and vegan foods has “increased dramatically” over the past decade, as have expectations for taste and convenience.

EVU is the organization that supports the “V-Label”, a voluntary certified labeling system.“The number of vegans and vegetarians is increasing, but also the number of people occasionally interested in these foods. There is no end in sight for the plant-based food industry, ”she says.

“We expect more and more products to be on the shelves in the years to come, and we expect them to get better and better, especially in the area of ​​meat and vegetable alternatives. dairy products, ”she continues.

Labeling of vegetarian and vegan foods has been a point of contention for the industry in recent months. Earlier this year, following a vote in the European Parliament in October 2020 to further restrict dairy terms and images for plant-based dairy products, more than 34 MEPs called on the EC and the Council to reject the “censorship of plant-based dairy products”.

In mid-April, alternative milk players denounced labeling restrictions on plant-based dairy products, while the conservative dairy lobby strongly touted pro-censorship sentiments.

In a victory for the meatless sector last October, the European Parliament rejected the ban on veggie burgers, which would rename “veggie burgers” to “veggie discs”.

By Elizabeth Green

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