On October 23rd 2020, the European Parliament voted yes on Amendment 171 and, if this is adopted into law, there will be huge consequences for the plant-based food industry.
WHAT IS AMENDMENT 171?
Amendment 171 is a new set of rules that intend to make it much harder for companies to use any terms or imagery that directly compare plant-based products to dairy products. If this amendment is adopted in its strictest form, you would not be able to label a plant-based item with the words 'does not contain milk', 'yoghurt-style' or 'cheese alternative.' Even phrasing such as 'creamy texture' would be banned.
It could also ban companies from creating visually similar packaging to dairy products, like butter blocks or milk cartons, and even images of plant-based products looking similar to dairy products - e.g. a 'white beverage' being shown at the breakfast table.
Another baffling element is that companies would no longer be able to show climate impact comparisons on their products, e.g. 'this contains half the carbon emissions of dairy butter'. This means that companies would have to actively withhold information from consumers!
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?
The whole thing feels like a huge step backwards. According to a recent study by vegan supermarket chain Veganz, the number of vegans in Europe has doubled within four years, from 1.3 million in 2016 to 2.6 million in 2020. But the new amendment will make it much harder for this growing market to find the products that they want and get the information that they need.
The amendment also seems to completely contradict the sustainability goals created by the European Parliament to slash 60% of their emissions by 2020.
According to a Greenpeace report on the meat and dairy industry, animal agriculture creates more emissions than cars and vans combined. So it seems really disappointing that Amendment 171 is going to make it harder to make plant-based choices.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Although the European Parliament voted yes to Amendment 171, there is still a chance it won't be adopted into law. There are further negotiations taking place and a petition has been created, which currently has over 350,000 signatures, to show the European Commission and EU member states that consumers want to be able to have power over their own decisions.
Here at Kitleys, we would be hugely affected by Amendment 171. We are already in the process of rebranding as rules have already come into place which state that you are no longer allowed to use the word 'milk' for non-dairy products. If Amendment 171 is adopted into law, then we would also have to also change our entire packaging design.
A huge number of companies have come together to show their support for the petition, including Oatly, Quorn and Upfield - who look after brands like Flora and Violife. It's a scary time for the non-dairy industry and if you have the time to join us in signing the petition, it would mean the world to us!
Sign the petition here