The European Commission has today published two reports on mandatory food origin labelling, as requested by the Council and European Parliament in the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (1169/2011). Both conclude that the benefits from new mandatory labelling requirements for these products do not clearly outweigh the costs and that voluntary labelling rules seem the most suitable solution. These reports will now be transmitted to the European Parliament and the Council.
The first report, managed by the Commission's DG AGRI, looks at the feasibility of different options for mandatory origin labelling for dairy products and for minor meats, notably horsemeat, rabbit meat and meat from game and birds (farmed and wild), given that labelling rules are already in place for beefmeat, pigmeat, poultrymeat, sheepmeat and goatmeat. Considering consumer attitudes towards additional information and potential additional costs and the potential additional requirements for businesses and public authorities, the report concludes that, for dairy products, compulsory additional requirements would have an uneven impact on producers and are likely to be burdensome for some, while there are doubts about consumer willingness to pay more for the additional information. It suggests that the existing options for voluntary labelling could address some consumer demands. For the "minor meats", too, the report concludes that there would be additional operational costs from introducing compulsory labelling.
The second report, managed by DG SANTE, explores the need for consumers to be informed on the origin of unprocessed foods, single ingredient products and ingredients that represent more than 50 % of a food. It concludes that consumers are interested in origin labelling for all these food categories, but less so for food categories such as meat, meat products and dairy products. The report also looks at the costs and benefits of labelling rules, including the impact on the internal market and on international trade, and concludes that voluntary origin labelling, combined with existing mandatory origin labelling regimes for specific foods or categories of food, is the most suitable way forward.