Photo: Retail Italy by Eurofresh Distribution
The European Commission has published the EU Organic Action Plan for 2021-2030. As part of the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Action Plan aims to increase organic agriculture in the EU and to have at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land under organic farming by 2030. To reach this objective, the European Commission aims to boost consumption of organic food in the EU and stimulate conversion to organic farming. The Action Plan is also intended to increase the contribution of organic farming to the sustainability of the European agriculture sector. Success of the Action Plan will depend on implementation at the Member State level and how the Member States encourage increased production and promotion of organic products as well as consumer willingness to buy organic.
The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the upcoming revision of the EU’s geographical indications legislation, which was announced as part of the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy. The European Commission aims to strengthen the legislative framework of geographical indication schemes and improve the schemes’ contribution to sustainable production. Interested stakeholders have until April 9, 2021 to respond to the consultation.
In May 2020, the European Commission announced that it would revise its geographical indications (GI) legislation as part of the Farm to Fork Strategy. The Commission aims to strengthen the legislative framework of GI schemes, to improve the schemes’ contribution to sustainable production, and to strengthen the position of farmers and GI producer groups in the food supply chain. The 27 Member States welcomed this Commission’s initiative in their Council Conclusions on the Farm to Fork Strategy. The Member States also invited the Commission to reaffirm the relevance and importance of EU quality schemes.
The European Union currently protects almost 3,400 names of specific products that can be agricultural products and foodstuffs, fishery and aquaculture products wines, spirit drinks and aromatized wine products2. These names are protected under one of the EU quality schemes: Geographical Indication (GI), Protected Designations of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG).
The Commission is currently working on an impact assessment to inform this upcoming revision of legislation. The impact assessment will analyse how to improve protection and enforcement of GIs in the Member States, notably on the internet and encourage GI producers to place on the market environmentally and socially sustainable to meet societal demands and consumer expectations, while making the GI instrument more attractive to producer groups across the EU and help them improving economic sustainability. Moreover, it aims to enable consumers to make informed choices on GIs by giving clear information on GIs through the logo and labelling information.
The Commission is also considering the creation of an EU GI protection system for non-agricultural products. As part of the impact assessment exercise, the Commission is carrying out a public consultation to gather information and feedback from stakeholders on the implementation of the current legislation. The Commission would also like stakeholders to identify the major challenges that would need to be addressed in the planned revision of EU GI legislation.
The European Commission has released the latest Eurobarometer on EU citizens expectations related to food. This EU-wide survey found that taste, food safety and cost are the main factors influencing Europeans’ food purchases. This survey also gives indication about what European consumers consider a sustainable food or diet.
The Eurobarometer highlights seven key findings:
- Europeans prioritise taste, food safety and cost over sustainability concerns when purchasing food.
- Sustainable food and diets are primarily associated with nutrition and health.
- The majority of Europeans say they eat a healthy and sustainable diet most of the time, however responses vary greatly by country.
- Affordability and availability of healthy, sustainable choices and clear information on food labelling are the most likely factors to help Europeans adopt a sustainable diet.
- Food producers and manufacturers are seen as key actors in making the food system sustainable, above public authorities, but not all Europeans recognize their own role as consumers.
- Almost all Europeans call on the public and private sectors to improve access to sustainable food and to provide information on food sustainability on food labels.
- Clear information about food and its importance for health are also reflected in citizens’ concerns about food fraud.
On December 23, 2020, the European Commission published a roadmap outlining its intention to revise the Food Information to Consumers Regulation. The revision will tackle front of pack nutrition labelling, nutrient profiles, origin labelling and date marking. Stakeholders can comment on the roadmap until February 3, 2021.
As part of the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F), the Commission announced that it would take a number of actions to reduce the environmental and climate footprint of the EU food system and facilitate the shift to healthy and sustainable diets. This will be done through the revision of the FIC Regulation. These actions include:
Harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling;
The setting of ‘nutrient profiles’ restricting the promotion (via nutrition and health claims) of foods that are high in fats, sugars and/or salt;
The extension of mandatory origin or provenance indications to certain products;
A revision of the EU rules on date marking (‘use by’ and ‘best before’).
With this roadmap, the Commission said that it will prepare an impact assessment in 2021. The impact assessment will assess and compare the potential impacts of the different policy options described in the roadmap. A legislative proposal is foreseen for the fourth quarter of 2022
The Commission has identified foods for which consumers have particular interest to know where they are coming. These include potatoes and tomatoes.
TAGS: European Commission, Farm to Fork, Food Information to Consumers Regulation