The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed a recent decision by the European Court of Justice to protect dairy produce labels. The ruling means that plant-based food products can no longer be sold in the European Union using terms such as ‘butter’ and ‘milk’. It follows a referral from the German court, where Tofu products had previously been sold as ‘veggie cheese’ and ‘Tofu butter’.
FUW Milk and Dairy Produce Committee Chairman Rhydian Owen, said: “This ruling represents a significant step forward in the correct marketing and labelling of plant based products. By using terminology that should be solely reserved for our excellent and high quality dairy produce, plant-based competitors have been misleading consumers and cashing in on the good reputation of milk based products.”
He added that FUW members have consistently called for clearer labelling on food produce in order to ensure that consumers can make an informed purchase and the Union is pleased with the decision of the EU Court.
With the exception of coconut milk, peanut butter, almond milk and ice-cream, EU regulations state that marketing and advertising labels such as milk, butter, cheese and cream may only be used when describing products from animal milk.
The ruling will mean that companies selling plant-based products using dairy-only terms will need to rebrand or face litigation proceedings if the matter is taken forward by national courts. Member States failing to comply with the ruling could also face EU action.
“The Welsh and British dairy sector works hard to maintain high standards and the mislabelling of plant-based products undermines both the nutritional value of our milk based products and the hard work and dedication of our dairy farmers. Given the move towards better labelling within the EU, the FUW would seek to ensure that products sold in the UK are also compliant with this ruling, irrespective of the Brexit deal negotiated,” added Rhydian Owen.