| Belgium

EU rejects plan to restrict plant-based product branding

European Union votes against Amendment 171, which would have banned plant-based brands from using dairy-related terminology, such as ‘creamy’ and ‘buttery’

EU repesentatives had initially indicated they would back Amendment 171 in November 2020 | Photo credit: Guillaume Perigois

Plant-based brands in Europe have been given a boost after the EU rejected legislation that would have prohibited them from using dairy terms on branding and marketing material.

Amendment 171 (AM171) would have also banned plant-based brands from using imagery and packaging formats typically associated with dairy products, including plant-based milk cartons.
Plant-based brands in Europe are already prohibited from directly referring to products as ‘milk’, ‘cheese’ or ‘yoghurt’. However, AM171 would have gone one step further, banning the use of descriptive terms, including ‘creamy’ or ‘buttery’ by dairy-alternative brands. 
The legislation was supported by the European Dairy Association (EDA), which stated “non-dairy products cannot hijack our dairy terms and the well-deserved reputation of excellence in milk and dairy,” when AM171 was first proposed in October 2020. 

EU representatives had initially indicated they would back the bill. However, an anti-AM171 petition spearheaded by ProVeg International was signed by 456,000 consumers and supported by 96 organisations, including prominent plant-based brands Nestlé, Alpro and Oatly, as well as NGOs WWF and Greenpeace.
“Citizens, industry and experts have spoken, and the EU listened. It would be absurd to censor plant-based products at the same time as telling consumers to switch to a plant-based diet. Imagine censoring electric cars or recycled paper. We applaud the EU for its clear-sightedness under immense pressure from environmentally reckless interests,” said Jasmijn de Boo, Vice President, ProVeg International.
Plant-based dairy alternatives have gained significant traction in coffee shops globally as consumers seek to reduce their environmental impact and opt for healthier lifestyles.
Underlining lucrative business opportunities for plant-based products, in May 2021 Swedish dairy-alternative Oatly commenced an IPO that could value the brand at up to $10bn. That month, Swiss food and beverage giant Nestlé launched new pea alt-milk brand Wunda for the European market.
Meanwhile, in late-2020 Belgium-based Alpro announced it would invest €30m ($35m) to boost production at its facilities in Kettering, UK and Wevelgem, Belgium and produce 75 million extra packs of soya, oat, rice and coconut drinks per year.

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