What has been announced?

Government has announced plans to introduce clearer and more transparent labelling for British food and drink products. The initiative was revealed by Steve Barclay, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), at the 2024 Oxford Farming Conference. Government aims to make it easier for shoppers to identify British products and understand their origin and method of production.

This move comes amid concerns about misleading labelling practices that may not accurately represent the origin of the food products. Imported products that do not meet UK welfare standards are often not clearly differentiated, leading to confusion among consumers. DEFRA plans to address this issue by mandating how and where origin information is displayed, potentially including front of pack country of origin labelling.

What's the thinking behind the plans?

The Secretary of State said that British farmers take pride in producing food that meets, and often exceeds, world-leading animal welfare and environmental standards. However, products produced to lower standards overseas are often not clearly labelled, creating an unfair situation for both farmers and consumers. Government's proposal aims to protect farmers and consumers by improving transparency and enabling consumers to make informed decisions at the supermarket shelf and online. This initiative will back British farmers who produce food to world-leading standards of taste, quality, and animal welfare.

The proposal also includes plans to highlight imported products that do not meet UK welfare standards and to improve how origin information is given online. DEFRA is also considering the introduction of a 'Buy British Button' to support online customers in understanding the origin of their food products at the point of purchase.

This initiative is not just aimed at British consumers. The Secretary of State believes that this labelling change will appeal to consumers around the world, potentially boosting exports for the British economy. DEFRA also plans to use a UK GI logo on geographical indication products made and sold in Great Britain from the beginning of 2024.

The proposed clearer labelling initiative could offer consumers more transparency and help farmers showcase their commitment to high animal welfare and environmental standards. It signals potential benefits for British farmers and a desire for collaboration and understanding between farmers and Government.

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