Origin decrees, Big Food on the attack

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Food Drink Europe, the confederation of industry giants in Europe, finally declared battle with the Italian decrees on origin. But politics and public opinion are already outspoken in favor of transparency, and operators have adapted to national standards. A pebble in the pond.

The origin decrees under discussion

The mandatory declaration of origin of raw materials used in Made in Italy food products has been introduced for several categories of food over the past few months:

Origin of wheat and semolina in pasta,

rice origin,

Milk origin in dairy products,

origin tomatoes in canned goods.

Therequirement to indicate the location of the production (or, if different, packaging) establishment was in turn reinstated, by special decree.

Origin, from form to substance

On a formal level-as we have pointed out-Ministers Martina and Calenda have disregarded European procedures for notifying national standards. In fact, the Italian government decided to follow up on the demands of the agricultural side, with broad public support, without waiting for the necessary green light from Brussels.

The European Commission in turn failed in its obligations. Failing to define how the origin of the primary ingredient is to be indicated on the label (when it differs from the declared origin of the foodstuff). With a not insignificant delay of four years, compared to the deadline prescribed by the European legislature. (1)

In essence, food operators established in Italy have complied with the provisions of the various decrees of origin. They have therefore updated their product labels, introducing the additional mandatory information on the origin of raw materials and location of the factory. With an effort that is not laughable, given the large number of references involved, but not so onerous either. (2)

Food Drink Europe, a pebble in the pond

Only December 13, 2017 Food Drink Europe, the voice of
Big Food
in Europe, (3) filed a complaint against Italy with the European Commission. Deducing failure to comply with notification procedures on origin decrees (pasta, rice, tomato) and plant location.

A pebble in the pond has been thrown. Imperceptible and late, under Christmas to boot. It is unlikely that the Juncker Commission-after providing theassist to the Gentiloni government on the plant’s location-will decide to intervene. And a Brussels censure on the origin of raw materials is unimaginable. Too unpopular just thinking about it.

Better would be for Big Food to go along with the resumption of work on the origin of the primary ingredient. As soon as the Commission has published the implementing regulation, and it has entered into force, the origin decrees will lapse by their express provision.

The plant site, on the other hand, no, that one just won’t touch. Instead, this obligation should be extended to the European level to enhance territories and their supply chains. Under the banner of transparency, which consumAtors also know how to reward.

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) See reg. EU 1169/11, Article 26.3
(2) In fact, the various decrees allow the use of generic indications, such as ‘EU/non-EU,’ which do not require any investment whatsoever in logistics and warehousing. Save the opportunity to highlight supply chain integrations at the national level, which responds to marketing strategies previously adopted by quite a few operators on premium product lines
(3) Food Drink Europe (FDE) is the confederation that theoretically represents the food industries in Europe. In fact, it expresses the positions that Big Food imposes both directly and indirectly (through European trade associations where the giants always dominate as the ‘biggest members’). It is no coincidence then, that the chairman of the theoretical representation of European food industries is the V.President of a U.S. group (Hubert Weber, Executive Vice-President & President Europe, Mondelez International)