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Brief: EU drops plans to restrict marketing of plant-based dairy alternatives

May 26, 2021

  • The EU has rejected a proposed law which would have severely restricted the ways in which plant-based dairy analogs can be sold and marketed throughout the bloc.
  • Amendment 171 would have banned any “direct or indirect use” or “evocation” of terminology associated with dairy products when marketing plant-based alternatives. Opponents of the proposal argued that it could have stopped alt-dairy brands from selling their products in cartons, displaying allergen or environmental information on packaging, or even showing images of the product itself.
  • The Good Food Institute said in a tweet that the European Parliament’s decision to drop the draft rules “must signal the end of absurd labeling restrictions on plant-based foods at all levels of government in Europe […] Instead of wasting time with pointless proposals, EU leaders should put their climate ambitions into action and support consumers to make sustainable choices.”

Why it matters:

The EU already has some of the most restrictive rules governing how plant-based dairy alternatives can be marketed within its territory.

Plant-based brands are not allowed to name their products using terms like ‘milk’ or ‘yogurt’ under current EU regulations. However, Amendment 171 could have forbidden phrases such as ‘lactose-free alternative to milk,’ ‘half the carbon emissions of butter,’ ‘use just like dairy cream,’ or even ‘does not contain milk.’

EU to launch carbon farming framework by end-2021 following two-year study – read more here

A public petition opposing Amendment 171 was signed by over 450,000 consumers, while cross-industry groups comprising 21 NGOs and 94 companies wrote open letters critical of the proposal.

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