Origin of ingredients on label, in France also Lidl announces breakthrough

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Operation label transparency on the origin of ingredients continues to grow in France. Joining now is Lidl, where the first MDD (Distributor Brand) products are about to land on the shelf, specifying the country of origin of the ingredient, instead of the generic ‘EU’ label. As the appeal of the united supply chain-from farm to table-reaches the parliament across the Atlantic.

Lidl France is the third large-scale retail group in France to pick up the strong signal from consumers, who are clamoring for transparency. On the origin of food products and their ingredients, as well as their nutritional properties (through the NutriScore system). Essential information to be able to make informed and responsible purchasing choices.

Label origin, short supply chain and food sovereignty

Origin on the label, on closer inspection, expresses a shared focus on the values associated with the concepts of short supply chain and food sovereignty. Which deserve more serious consideration than the trivial accusations of ‘sovereignty’ or ‘populism’ made by the carriers of opposing interests.

In fact, food sovereignty meets the need to contribute to rural development and the preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity. Thanks to the conversion to organic farming, which in fact continues to grow, in France as in the rest of Europe. And it is indispensable to the growth of each country’s economy, employment and GDP. Without neglecting food security needs, the relevance of which is all the more evident in the coronavirus season.

The manifesto ‘Helping consumers help farmers

The manifesto ‘
Aider les Consommateurs à aider les Agriculteurs.
‘, published on 7.6.19 by Les Echos’ Think Thank AgriAgro, expresses the significance of integrating the agribusiness supply chain on the ground. In the most shared interest of all social partners, private and public. The goal is to save ‘Farm France,’ debased in its agricultural productivity by massive imports of cheap commodities. France itself-where the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was signed in 2015-has been downgraded in just a few years from second to sixth place among the world’s exporters of agricultural commodities. Because of distortions (fiscal, social and environmental) that distort global competitiveness.

The ecological transition is at stake, as noted above, in the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). And that is why – pending the outcome of the public consultation on the EU Farm to Fork (f2f) Strategy – the Manifesto was presented to the French National Assembly, 11.12.19. Gathering the support of breeder MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau, of En Marche, and numerous other endorsements.

The French transparency revolution

The #BalanceTonOrigine campaign, on social media, highlighted the shortcomings of the European primary ingredient origin labeling system (reg. EU 2018/775, ‘Origin Planet Earth‘). And the large-scale retail sector responded promptly. On 12.11.19 Intermarché launched the FrancoScore, followed immediately by Leclerc. And now also at Lidl, unfortunately only in France.

‘Désormais, sur nos produits, je demande donc aux industriels d’indiquer réellement le pays d’origine. Je ne veux plus d’origine UE sur les produits Lidl’ (Michel Biéro, purchasing and marketing manager, Lidl France).

The evolution of the supply chain

In France as in Italy-and throughout the EU-the indication of origin of raw materials in processed products is currently expressed in two alternative ways:

the different origin of the primary ingredient is communicated with generic claims (‘different origin’, ‘EU’ ‘non-EU’, ‘EU and non-EU’, planet Earth precisely). A logos consistent with EU rules and yet far from the expectations of European consumers. Who in fact formalized the regulation initiative #EatORIGINal! Unmask your food!,

– Instead, the integration of the supply chain in the territory is highlighted, on the label front and in advertising, with wording such as ‘ 100% Italy,’ ‘Origin Italy ‘ (i.e. , ‘100% France,’ ‘Origin France’). And it continues to experience growing success, as attested to in the Bel Paese by GS1-Italy’s timely Immagino reports.

The evolution of the supply chain is thus imposed from below, in the case of origin as it is in the case-which also has some similarities-of palm oil. Where it was precisely European consumers who forced a paradigm shift that favored, among other things, the recovery of local and traditional fat sources (olive and sunflower oils, rapeseed, butter). Under the banner, as always, of sustainable spending.

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.