Denominations of plant-based food and drink products: European Parliament sends mixed message ahead of trilogue negotiations on CAP Reform

The European Plant-based Foods Association (ENSA) is puzzled by the outcome of today’s vote on the Common Market Organisation (CMO) Regulation, within the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). On the one hand, MEPs massively rejected the introduction of restrictions on the use of meat-related terms on plant-based food products, recognising that consumers are not confused by the use of such terms and that these products have a role to play in the transition towards more sustainable diets. On the other hand, MEPs supported an amendment which, if adopted in the final text, would introduce far-reaching restrictions on the use of dairy terms on plant-based products.
Dairy denominations are already protected in EU legislation, prohibiting the use of sales denominations such as ‘oat milk’. ENSA members have never referred to their products as “milk”, “yoghurt” or “dairy” without further qualification, because their products are not made using cow's milk. On the contrary, plant-based food manufacturer offer an alternative to animal-based milk products and clearly indicate this to the consumer by describing their products as “dairy alternatives”, “milk alternatives” and “plant-based alternatives to yoghurt”. If adopted in the final text, amendment 171 would go way beyond that by prohibiting any indirect reference to dairy terms in all commercial communications, meaning that terms such as ‘creamy’ or ‘plant-based alternatives to yoghurt’ could become illegal.
These provisions would hinder consumers’ access to plant-based foods by making it more difficult for them to identify these products. This is both unnecessary to protect consumers (BEUC’s position) and going against the scientific recommendations to switch to more sustainable diets including more plant-based foods.
Sue Garfitt, President of ENSA said: “The current rules are very clear: they protect consumers from misleading practices while providing an equal level playing field for fair competition between products which are alternatives. We are glad that the Parliament recognized this for plant-based alternatives to meat and we hope the inter-institutional negotiations will reach a similar conclusion as far as dairy alternatives are concerned”.
As inter-institutional negotiations will begin, we call on the Council to support clear information to consumers on plant-based foods and to reject the amendment 171 proposed by the Parliament. We also call on the Commission to stand by its own evaluation, which showed there was no need for further restrictions than what is already in place. We call for a detailed impact assessment of the provisions proposed by the Parliament, which we believe will have a negative impact on consumers, the environment and the European plant-based foods sector, in breach of the principle of proportionality enshrined in the Treaty on European Union.

Joint letter to MEPs - Aligning CMO with Farm to Fork

The European Plant-based Foods Association (ENSA), together with other 40 stakeholders, call on Members of the European Parliament to request a separate vote on and reject Amendments 165 and 171. These amendments would strongly hamper the further development of innovative, plant-based foods that have a key role to play in enabling citizens to make healthier and more sustainable food choices.

To access the full letter please click here.

ENSA reactive statement – Farm to Fork Strategy

The European Plant-based Foods Association (ENSA) warmly welcomes the publication of the Commission’s Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies. This sense of direction by the European Commission is even more timely as we collectively reflect on how to make our food system more resilient and more sustainable in the light of the ongoing covid-19 situation we have all been experiencing. A climate resilient agriculture and sovereign food ecosystems will also be key for the competitiveness of the European agri-food sector, as we embark in the Green Recovery.

We particularly welcome the Commission’s commitment to encourage consumers to adopt heathier and more sustainable eating habits, including more plant-based foods. The scientific consensus is indeed very clear: to remain within our planet’s boundaries, we need to rebalance our diets to include more reasonable proportions of food of animal origin, and more plant-based foods. We are pleased that the Commission did not shy away from recognising that a shift is necessary. We reiterate our commitment to playing our part in making it easy for consumers to make sustainable dietary choices. We hope that through concrete actions to come, the Farm to Fork Strategy will help establishing planetary health diets and generate significant health and environmental benefits.

Sue Garfitt, President of ENSA said: “it was time the elephant in the room be addressed! The EU cannot achieve its Green Deal ambitions if it overlooks the potential of a dietary shift to include more plant-based food on our plates.” 

ENSA’s perspective on the European Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy

The European Plant-based Foods Association (ENSA) strongly supports the objectives of the European Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy to accelerate the transition towards a sustainable food system, through sustainable food production, processing and consumption. We call for the recognition of the contribution that plant-based foods make to a healthy and sustainable diet through their inclusion in dietary guidelines that take into account both nutrition and environmental sustainability. Sustainable dietary guidelines should be used as reference points to encourage consumers to rebalance their diets by including more diverse plant-based foods and to support European farmers to produce high-quality plant protein and and other sustainably-grown crops such as oats, almonds etc.For specific suggestions on how the EU can support sustainable plant-based diets from farm to fork, please see ENSA’s position attached.