COOLing on mandatory origin labelling – EU Commission report published

On 20th May 2015 the EU Commission, pursuant art. 26 (5) and (6) of the Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 published the “Study on the mandatory indication of country of origin or place of provenance of unprocessed foods, single ingredient products and ingredients that represent more than 50% of a food”.

More report are expected to be published about:

(a) types of meat other than beef, swine, sheep, goat and poultry;

(b) milk;

(c) milk used as an ingredient in dairy products.

The conclusions of the study are the following:

  • In terms of factors affecting consumer purchasing decisions, consumer interest in origin labelling, ranks behind price, taste, use by/best before date, convenience and/or appearance aspects. Even if consumer interest in origin labelling for unprocessed foods, single ingredient products and ingredients representing more than 50% of a food is claimed by two thirds to three quarters of consumers, it is lower than for food categories such as meat, meat products or dairy products.
  • Consumers link origin information to various product aspects, such as quality, safety, environmental concerns and also declare that they would buy national products to support the economy of their country, with important differences amongst Member States. They would prefer information on origin at the level of the country compared with a EU/non-EU level and seem more interested in the place of production compared with the place of farming of the raw material.
  • Unprocessed foods, single ingredient products and ingredients that represent more than 50% of a food are food categories that gather very different products, for which consumer interest in origin information and economic impact of imposing a mandatory origin labelling varies greatly.
  • The supply chains for the three categories of foods in the scope of the report show that the origin of ingredients varies frequently to maintain low purchasing prices and to maintain the quality of the final product. Therefore, mandatory origin labelling at the EU level and even more at the level of the country is highly complex to implement in many areas of food, leading to substantial increases of costs of production, which ultimately would be passed on to consumers.
  • Origin labelling on a voluntary basis would be the least market disruptive scenario and would maintain product cost at current levels. It would not provide a satisfactory solution to the consumer demand for systematic origin information, but consumers could, if they so wish, opt for foods where origin information is voluntarily provided for by food business operators.
  • Mandatory origin labelling at EU level (EU/non-EU or EU/third country) leads to less important production cost increases, less burden for both food business operators and Member States competent authorities, but consumer satisfaction would be not as high as with mandatory origin labelling at country level. Unlike origin labelling at EU level, origin labelling at country level would have an 13 important impact on the internal market, with a possible increase of consumption of local foods for certain markets.
  • Both mandatory origin labelling scenarios at EU and country levels could impact on international food supplies and interfere with existing trade agreements with third countries. Additional labelling rules may lower the competitiveness of EU food business operators on the international market, while food business operators from third countries are concerned about potential additional costs of production and loss of exports to the EU because consumers would prefer foods of EU origin.
  • Finally, mandatory origin labelling would represent an additional burden on Member States competent authorities, in particular in the current economic environment, if they had to cope with the imposition of possible new control tasks for such additional requirements.
  • Against this background and in view of the Commission policies in terms of better regulation, voluntary origin labelling combined with the already existing mandatory origin labelling regimes for specific foods or categories of food appears as the suitable option. It maintains selling prices at current levels and still allows consumers to choose products with specific origins if they want to, while it does not affect the competitiveness of food business operators and does not impact internal market and international trade.

The report will be presented soon to the EU Parliament, but the chance to see a legislative proposal on mandatory COOL labelling for these categories of products seems, at the moment, at least less likely.

Clear Label Leads Top 10 Trends for 2015

“From Clean to Clear Label” and “Convenience for Foodies” lead the Innova Market Insights food & beverage Top 10 Trends list for 2015. Innova Market Insights will present these trends in a webinar on November 6 (4pm CET, 10am EST). Register here.

The Top Ten Trends likely to impact the food industry in 2015 and beyond have been identified by Innova Market Insights from its ongoing analysis of key global developments in food and drink launch activity worldwide. In previous years, the market researcher has consistently identified upcoming trends to watch, including “Sustainability” in 2008, “Free-From Rises” in 2010, “Return to Softer Claims” in 2011, and “Location, Location, Location” in 2012, all of which have developed further and continue to have a significant effect on the industry today.

The Top 10 Trends likely to impact the food industry in 2015 and beyond have been identified by Innova Market Insights from its ongoing analysis of key global developments in food and drink launch activity worldwide.

“The move from ‘clean’ to ‘clear’ labeling is a key trend for 2015, reflecting a move to clearer and simpler claims and packaging for maximum transparency,” reports Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. “Meeting the needs of the Millennial consumer has also become a key focus, as has targeting the demands of the gourmet consumer at home, re-engineering the snacks market for today’s lifestyles and combating obesity with a focus on positive nutrition.”

Top food and beverage trends for 2015 are led by:

  1. From Clean to Clear Label. Clean label claims are tracked on nearly a quarter of all food and beverage launches, with manufacturers increasingly highlighting the naturalness and origin of their products. With growing concerns over the lack of a definition of “natural,” however, there is a need for more clarity and specific details. Consumers, retailers, industry and regulators are all driving more transparency in labeling.
  2. Convenience for Foodies. Continued interest in home cooking has been driven by cooking shows on TV and by blogging foodies. It is seen as fashionable, fun and social, as well as healthy and cost-effective. It has driven demand for a greater choice of fresh foods, ingredients for cooking from scratch and a wider use of recipe suggestions by manufacturers and retailers.
  3. Marketing to Millennials. The so-called Millennial generation, generally aged between 15 and 35, now accounts for about one-third of the global population and is tech savvy and socially engaged. They are well informed, want to try something different and are generally less brand loyal than older consumers. They want to connect with products and brands and know the story behind them.
  4. Snacks Rise to the Occasion. Formal mealtimes are continuing to decline in popularity and growing numbers of foods and drinks are now considered to be snacks. Quick healthy foods are tending to replace traditional meal occasions and more snacks are targeted at specific moments of consumption, with different demand influences at different times of day.
  5. Good Fats, Good Carbs. With concerns over obesity there is a growing emphasis on unsaturated and natural fats and oils that has seen rising interest in omega 3 fatty acid content as well as the return of butter to favor as a natural, tasty alternative to artificial margarines that may be high in trans fats. In the same way, naturally-occurring sugar is being favored at the expense of added sugars and artificial sweeteners.

Innova Market Insights will present the Top 10 Trends at Hi Europe, Amsterdam, booth no. G40 (Ingredients in Action), December 2-4.