Reports explore potential impact of new origin labelling for certain foods

Today, the Commission publishes two reports on origin labelling, as requested by the Council and European Parliament in the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (1169/2011). Both conclude that the benefits from new mandatory labelling requirements do not clearly outweigh the costs and that voluntary labelling rules seem to be the most suitable solution. The first report looks at the feasibility of different options for mandatory origin labelling for dairy products and for minor meats, notably horsemeat, rabbit meat and meat from game and birds (farmed and wild), given that labelling rules are already in place for beefmeat, pigmeat, poultrymeat, sheepmeat and goatmeat. Considering consumer attitudes towards additional information and potential extra costs, as well as any technical and administrative requirements arising for businesses and public authorities, the report concludes that for dairy products there would be an uneven impact on producers, making it more burdensome for some than for others. It also seems that consumers are not willing to pay more for the additional information. The report therefore suggests that the existing options for voluntary labelling could address some consumer demands while retaining flexibility for Member States and food operators. For the “minor meats”, the report similarly concludes that compulsory origin labelling would imply operational costs which would not outweigh the benefits. The second report explores the need for consumers to be informed on the origin of unprocessed foods, single ingredient products and ingredients that represent more than 50 % of a food. It concludes that consumers are interested in origin labelling for all these food categories, but less so for food categories such as meat, meat products and dairy products. The report also looks at the costs and benefits of labelling rules, including the impact on the internal market and on international trade, and concludes that voluntary origin labelling, combined with existing mandatory origin labelling regimes for specific foods or categories of food, is the most suitable way forward. These reports will be transmitted to the European Parliament and the Council.