Oatly, ProVeg, and Upfield have launched a petition to stop Amendment 171, which proposes absurd restrictions prohibiting vegan brands from showing imagery of their own products; the preferable carbon footprint of a plant-based product; or “using a picture of a plant-based white beverage being poured at a breakfast table”.
The European plant-based dairy sector is already prohibited from using terms like ‘oat milk‘ and ‘soya yogurt’. These newly proposed restrictions would even include the banning of phrases such as “does not contain milk”, and may prohibit brands from using images of their own products on packaging or advertising.
“People are not stupid – everyone understands that this is an attempt by the dairy lobby to hinder the shift towards sustainable plant-based eating,” says Oatly’s Cecilia McAleavey, Director of Public Affairs and Sustainable Eating. “This goes directly against the EU’s intent to promote more sustainable food production and makes it more difficult for consumers to choose plant-based options,”
“Given the climate crisis, it’s irresponsible to try and prevent us from encouraging people to make the switch to plant-based and help protect the planet in the process.”
In practice, this could prohibit the following:
- Describing a plant-based food, its taste, or function by referring to familiar ‘dairy’ terminology . For example, using wordings such as ‘it’s like milk’, ‘creamy’, or ‘buttery’ to inform the consumer about the purpose, texture, or flavour, either on packaging or advertising. This includes informative descriptions, even if they are purely factual. For instance, using the phrases “does not contain milk”, “suitable for persons suffering from lactose intolerance”, or “plant-based alternative to yoghurt”.
- Showing climate impact by comparing the carbon footprint of a plant-based food item with its dairy equivalent.
- Using a picture of a plant-based white beverage being poured at a breakfast table, or white foam swirling into a cappuccino.
- In its most restrictive interpretation, this could result in bans on plant-based food packaging that looks visually similar to dairy packaging.
Censoring the plant-based-dairy sector not only contradicts the EU’s public-health goals and the promotion of healthy diets – it sits in direct opposition to the sustainability objectives of the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy. If implemented, it would pose a substantial threat to the climate goals of the Paris Agreement as well as distorting the competition between traditional food companies and companies that produce plant-based alternatives.
Jasmijn de Boo, Vice President of ProVeg International, said: “It is baffling to once again be forced to justify sustainability. Why would we sabotage innovation? Who will benefit? Green energy is no longer being stifled or opposed, so why are we still suppressing and censoring sustainable food production, given the urgency of the situation? Who stands to lose here? We need to adapt across every part of our food chain if we’re to tackle the climate crisis. Genuinely sustainable food production must be enabled. How will we reach our climate goals if we allow the influence of powerful but unsustainable industries to determine our collective fate?”
This amendment will be discussed as part of the CMO (Common Market Organization) trilogues scheduled to start on January 27th.
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