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Clear labelling “vital” post-Brexit

The NFU has called on businesses to provide clear, unambiguous country-of-origin labelling on food packaging post-Brexit.

Uncertainty surrounds the future of domestic food labelling policy with current rules set at an EU-level. In this context, NFU Deputy President Minette Batters said clear country of origin labelling has never been so important. “We know more British people want more British food on their plates […] so it is vital customers know what they are purchasing,” she told delegates at this week’s Westminster Forum on next steps for UK food labelling policy.

While Batters acknowledged that some food businesses go above what is required in law by adopting voluntary labelling principles, she said the inconsistency of voluntary commitments can be the source of confusion among shoppers.

She cited a recent YouGov survey which found that 81% of UK adults think that online food retailers should provide the same amount of information about the product’s country of origin on the website as there is on the food packaging in store.

The NFU has previously urged retailers selling online to identify British products on the listing page with a British flag to make British products easily identifiable.

Batters also highlighted the importance of protected food names – under EU PGI and PDO status – as being crucial for protecting and promoting foods such as Stilton, West Country farmhouse cheddar, Welsh beef and Welsh lamb, at a time when more imported product could potentially enter the UK market, particularly in meat and milk processed products.

The government has previously indicated its desire to see a British protected food name status developed in the future.