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Labelling of foodstuffs: No to protectionism


12 May 2016


Agriculture & Food
Trade & Society

The European Parliament called for mandatory country-of-origin labelling for milk and "lightly-processed" milk and meat products today. The EPP Group is against such unrealistic and populist demands.

"The price pressure on farmers and SMEs would increase, although consumers are neither willing to accept higher food prices nor interested in country-of-origin labelling," says Renate Sommer MEP, who is in charge of the resolution for the EPP Group.

"The European Commission conducted an impact assessment on mandatory origin-labelling for milk, milk products and meats with low market shares. The result was that mandatory origin labelling would increase food prices but consumer interest in origin labelling was low compared to other factors.

"Moves in the European Parliament to still support the idea of origin labelling are clearly protectionist. British politicians have been complaining for a long time about the fact that a large part of their breakfast bacon actually comes from Denmark. It is wrong for this House to support 'buy national' pleas mixed with false information about the alleged urgent interest of consumers in country-of-origin labelling," said the EPP Group MEP.

"The concept of restricting mandatory origin-labelling to 'lightly-processed' meat and milk products is completely unrealistic. It is simply impossible to define 'lightly-processed'. It is not without reason that existing EU food legislation differentiates only between processed and non-processed products. Even if we restricted mandatory origin-labelling to fresh milk, this would cause multiple problems. Dairies in border regions buy their milk from a multitude of farms from several countries. They would have to provide different tank lorries, cooling systems and processing plants for each place of origin. Even fresh milk needs to be processed to a certain degree. Furthermore, producers of milk products would have additional costs for the production, storage and packaging for each different place of origin," said Sommer.

"Consumers really interested in local food can already buy products with voluntary labels, with national or even regional indications of origin. Besides, origin-labelling for fresh meat is already mandatory. And any butcher knows where his meat comes from. It is just slightly more expensive than the meat in the supermarket," concluded the EPP Group MEP.