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European Commission Proposes Revisions to Agri-food Marketing Standards

European Commission proposal on agri-food products

The European Commission has proposed revisions to the existing marketing standards applicable to agri-food products, including fruit and vegetables, juices, jams, honey, poultry, and eggs. The proposed revisions are expected to assist the end user in making more informed choices for a healthier diet and contribute to preventing food waste.

Among other proposals, the Commission suggested more apparent and mandatory origin mentioning rules for honey, nuts, and dried fruits, ripened bananas, as well as trimmed, transformed, and cut fruit and vegetables. The proposed rules will require mentioning the origin or the origines to appear on the label, increasing consumer transparency, and promoting EU production of these products.

The revisions also address food and packaging waste. For instance, “ugly” fruit and vegetables that are suitable for local/direct consumption, but have external defects, will be exempted from complying with marketing standards. This is expected to offer consumers more opportunities to buy fresh produce at affordable prices and benefit producers active in short supply chains. Additionally, products intended for donation may be exempted from main labeling requirements, reducing red tape and labels and facilitating operators’ donation engagement.

Fruit juices will be allowed to mention “with no added sugars” to clarify that, unlike fruit nectars, fruit juices cannot contain added sugars. A reformulated fruit juice would be permitted to indicate “reduced-sugar fruit juice” on its label. The label “coconut water” could now be used alongside “coconut juice” to simplify and adapt to consumer tastes.

The fruit content of jams will be increased from 350 grams to a 450-gram minimum (to 550 grams for quality extra) per kilo of the finished product, and the term “marmalade” will now be allowed for all jams to adapt the name to the most used locally. In addition, solar panels may now be utilized outdoors in free-range production systems for eggs, stimulating a more excellent supply of energy from renewable sources. Finally, the marking of eggs will also be done directly at the farm, improving traceability.

Delegated and implementing acts cover the recommendations for fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, and poultry, and the texts will be accessible for public comment for one month. After that, the delegated acts will be approved and sent to the European Parliament and Council for two months of review. Directives include proposals for jams, marmalades, fruit juices, and honey, which will go through the standard co-legislative procedure by the European Parliament and Council before publication and entering into effect.

EU marketing standards guarantee that product quality remains high, customers are protected, and standards are consistent across the EU market. They also make trading with foreign nations easier since they adhere to current international standards. The proposed adjustments are consistent with the Farm to Fork plan and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. They are anticipated to encourage and increase the use of sustainable goods while meeting new consumer and operator demands.

Meanwhile, the Commission is submitting a report to the European Parliament and the Council to approve new marketing requirements for cider and perry, as well as origin labeling for pulses, which are not presently covered by any marketing criteria in the Common Market Organisation Regulation.

Photo by Raul Gonzalez Escobar on Unsplash 

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