Thousands of consumers surveyed across four European Union countries have said they want country of origin labelling on more foods.

An average of 70% of consumers surveyed in France, Austria, Poland and Sweden believe country of origin labelling is important on food packaging, European consumer body BEUC has said. The group questioned around 1,000 consumers in each country.

Asked if food labels should detail the specific country of origin, rather than simply differentiating EU from non-EU produce, 50% of consumers in France, 59% in Austria, 64% in Poland and 78% in Sweden said labels should give this more detailed information.

“In 2013, the EU will decide on crucial rules on origin labelling," said BEUC director-general, Monique Goyens. "Our survey clearly shows that this info ranks high when people buy food. Making origin labelling meaningful and easy to find should be legislators’ yardstick.”

At present, origin labelling on food in the EU is patchy. Certain foods, including beef, olive oil, uncanned fish, fruit, vegetable and eggs, must denote origin. For all other foods, origin labelling is currently voluntary.

"Current origin labelling rules are inadequate," said Goyens.

While origin labelling for fresh, frozen and chilled pig, poultry, sheep and goat meet will become mandatory in the EU from 2014, officials have yet to decide on the specific information to be printed on packs - such as whether to state where the animal was reared and slaughtered.

For example, BEUC criticised current EU rules that allow sausages to be labelled as British when the pork comes from Denmark.

Show the press release

Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs AISBL | Der Europäische Verbraucherverband
Rue d’Arlon 80, B-1040 Brussels ? Tel. +32 (0)2 789 24 01 ?
press@beuc.eu ? www.beuc.eu ? www.twitter.com/beuctweet
TVA: BE 0422 071 051 ? EC register for interest representatives: identification number 9505781573-45
Contact:
Jonathan La Morte: +32 (0)2 789 24 01
Date:
24/01/2013
Reference:
PR 2013/001
Appetite to know: Europeans want food origin labelling
The origin is one of the key criteria for consumers when buying food. These are the results of a survey on origin labelling presented today in Brussels by The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC). Conducted in Sweden, France, Poland and Austria, the representative survey polled consumers about their expectations for origin labelling on food.
Confirming EU-wide Eurobarometer data1 and BEUC member research2, on average 70% of respondents say the origin to be an important factor when buying food3.
The survey findings also reveal that a clear majority of shoppers4 want to know the specific country their food comes from. Only about 10% of people polled indicated to prefer the indication EU or non-EU.
6 out of 10 respondents want to know both the country where a processed food’s primary ingredient was farmed or harvested and the country where the food itself was manufactured5. Such demands would prevent practices like labelling sausages as “British” when the pork comes from Denmark.
Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC, commented:
“In 2013, the EU will decide on crucial rules on origin labelling. Our survey clearly shows that this info ranks high when people buy food. Making origin labelling meaningful and easy to find should be legislators’ yardstick.”
“Producers go to great lengths to make consumers believe their food has a special regional character. German feta cheese promoted in Greek font or Chinese tomato sauce with Italian flags are poor marketing tricks to mislead shoppers. Such dishonest practices are unacceptable and should be stopped.”
“Current origin labelling rules are inadequate. All meats, milk, unprocessed food and single-ingredient food should mandatorily reveal the country it comes from. Just to indicate whether food is from the EU or not is not an option for consumers.”
ENDS
Note to editors:
1 Special Eurobarometer No 389 on Europeans’ attitude towards food security, food quality and the countryside found that, on average, “a substantial majority (71%) [of EU citizens] say that the origin of food is important”.
2 Similar research conducted by consumer organisations Test-Achats (Belgium), DTEST (Czech Republic), The Danish Consumer Council (Denmark), KEPKA (Greece), Altroconsumo (Italy), OCU (Spain) and DECO Proteste (Portugal) concluded on equivalent results.
3 77% in Austria, 71% in France, 66% in Poland and 61% in Sweden
Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs AISBL | Der Europäische Verbraucherverband
Rue d’Arlon 80, B-1040 Brussels ? Tel. +32 (0)2 789 24 01 ?
press@beuc.eu ? www.beuc.eu ? www.twitter.com/beuctweet
TVA: BE 0422 071 051 ? EC register for interest representatives: identification number 9505781573-45
4 59% in Austria, 50% in France, 64% in Poland and 78% in Sweden. 34% of Austrian and 36% of French consumers even want to know the region.
5 68% in Austria, 53% in France, 57% in Poland and 61% in Sweden for meat products
68% in Austria, 53% in France, 57% in Poland and 56% in Sweden for fruit and vegetable products
6 Please find here a direct link to a short factsheet about the survey. Here you can access the complete report.

Original source: http://docshare.beuc.org/docs/4/DCPNGBNCMDHFMMCBBPDJPOBLPDW69DBD2D9DW3571KM/BEUC/docs/DLS/2013-00050-01-E.pdf