Dairy UK has urged the European Dairy Association (EDA) to brush aside logistical concerns regarding the proposed adoption of origin labelling for dairy products, and instead focus on consumer preference.
Earlier this week, the EDA called on the European Commission (EC) not to adopt proposed mandatory origin labelling for milk and milk used as an ingredient in dairy products. It claimed that introducing this legislation will create unnecessary complications for the industry.
Jim Begg, director general of Dairy UK, which a member of the Brussels-based dairy industry trade organisation, accepts that introducing country of origin labelling (COOL) will create obstacles for the dairy industry. He argues, however, that consumer preference should be the priority.
“The EDA’s position opposing mandatory country of origin labelling is based, as they say, on avoiding making things ‘more complicated for the European dairy industry’,” said Begg.“Of course the practical logistics are an issue, but in the UK we simply believe that respecting consumer preferences is of greater importance.”
“We also believe that COOL represents an opportunity to generate additional value to the benefit of the entire supply chain, and farmers in particular, that shouldn't be passed up,” Begg added.
British dairy industry, government support
Building on Begg’s comments, Dairy UK communications director, Simon Bates, told DairyReporter.com that there is “very broad support” for mandatory origin labelling of milk and milk used as an ingredient in dairy products.
Farmers, processors, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) all support its implementation, said Bates.
“For the UK, country of origin labelling is a great opportunity for the dairy industry,” said Bates. “In the UK, this proposed legislation has very broad support across all dairy industry stakeholders.”
“Yes, there are a lot of technical issues, but we feel that British consumers want this,” he said.
Guarantee ‘British’ means British
Last month, the EC launched a call for tenders for a study on the impact of proposed legislation that would make origin labelling for milk and milk used as an ingredient in dairy products mandatory. The aim of the on-going study is to assess the need for consumers to be informed about the origin of milk, milk used as an ingredient in dairy products, and unprocessed meat other than beef, pig, poultry, sheep and goat meat.
In an open letter addressed to the EC, Dairy UK, the British Cheese Board, milk processor Dairy Crest, and the National Farmers Union (NFU) urged the implement this legislation.
According to the coalition, the introduction of mandatory origin labelling for milk and milk used as an ingredient in dairy products will guarantee that products marketed as British are actually make using milk from farms in the country.