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July 5, 2022

Mixed response to France ban on meaty terms for plant-based protein

From 1 October, the use of meaty names such as ‘steak’ and ‘sausage’ will be outlawed on plant-based protein food.

By Andy Coyne

France’s move to ban manufacturers from using meaty terms for plant-based protein products has met with a mixed reaction.

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A new legislative decree means that from 1 October the use of meaty names such as ‘steak’ and ‘sausage’ will be outlawed on plant-based protein food.

“It will not be possible to use sector-specific terminology traditionally associated with meat and fish to designate products that do not belong to the animal world and which, in essence, are not comparable,” the decree reads.

France becomes the first country in the European Union to impose such a ban. The EU rejected a similar proposal that would have resulted in bloc-wide restrictions in 2020.

The French decision follows hot on the heels of a ban on meaty terms for food containing no meat announced by the South African government last week.

Like South Africa, France has a powerful farming and meat lobby and it has applauded the announcement of the ban.

Interbev, the National Interprofessional Association for Livestock and Meat, said the move “represents a major step forward in the transparency of information provided to consumers”.

Its president, Jean-François Guihard, said: “The protection of meat designations and their regulatory frameworkis a very important subject on which our body has been mobilising for several years.”

A joint statement from French farmers’ unions – including the country’s largest FNSEA – also welcomed the ban but suggested it did not go far enough.

“This remains insufficient and will not avoid any confusion with the French consumer, in particular for meats,” it said.

The unions are concerned the ban does not cover imports from other EU countries and has urged the French government to “bring the file to Brussels” in order to “widen the scope applicable to all products, regardless of their origin”.

The union statement added: “Once again France is showing the way, let us be up to it by implementing this new provision at European level.”

On the other side of the argument, Nicolas Schweitzer, CEO of plant-based bacon manufacturer La Vie was quoted in the French media as describing the government’s decision as “delusional”.

And ONAV, a French association of scientists and health professionals promoting a plant-based diet, described the decree as “part of a logic of extensive protection of the economic interests of the meat sector”.

It added: “While climate experts, health professionals and consumer associations are now calling for better regulation of the marketing and promotion of the least sustainable foods and the promotion of healthier options, it risks hindering and delaying the development of the plant sector in France as well as the transition to healthier and sustainable diets with a stronger plant component.”

ONAV suggested the terms which are being banned for non-meat products “are already used by a majority of the population and do not bother consumers, the vegetable nature of the products being the desired element and motivating the act of purchase”.

It said: “These names contribute to making plant products more attractive, which thus facilitates the development of the plant sector in, in particular, the common interest of reducing the environmental impact of food.”

ONAV argued that because the decree only targets domestic producers, it will lead to “a competitive disadvantage that France risks paying in the future”.

Terms like ‘milk’, ‘butter’ and ‘cheese’ are already banned at the European level on products that are not of animal origin.

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What’s the forecast for the food and grocery industry?

The food and grocery sector thrived during the pandemic, largely due to the shutdown of the food service industry and the sector’s subsequent necessity, panic-induced bulk purchasing, and spending more time at home. The market has grown as a result of inflation. Consumer unwillingness to go out and socialize, and the reopening of several hospitality facilities, helped maintain the demand for groceries, particularly online, in 2021. As consumer behavior changes, we consume more food and drink at home, and inflation increases basket sizes. GlobalData predicts that the sector will continue to hold a higher share than had been predicted prior to the pandemic. This is true despite the fact that the food and grocery sector's share of overall retail will decline from its peak in 2020. This report will discuss market forecasts and key themes in the global food & grocery industry in 2022 and beyond. It covers:
  • Market drivers and inhibitors
  • Five-year forecasts and the impact of COVID-19
  • The performance of the online channel versus offline
  • Major trends in the market including rapid delivery, ambient retailing, supply chain disruption, and inflation
Assess developments within this sector to help your business thrive in 2022 and beyond.
by GlobalData
Enter your details here to receive your free Report.

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