EC in talks over new farm produce labelling scheme

10th December 2013 - Fine Cut
EC in talks over new farm produce labelling scheme

A new labelling system to ensure farm produce is clearly identified could change the shopping habits of consumers in the European Union.

The European Commission's (EC's) agriculture department is currently investigating the feasibility of a new scheme to make this type of item more visible to individuals picking up essentials as part of their weekly shop.

According to the National Pig Association, around 15 per cent of farms sell more than half of their produce locally. However, the EC is looking to change this in order to promote the sale of these products on a wider scale.

As an alternative to a stand-alone certification scheme, a report produced by the body has suggested the idea of a new quality term in order to add value to farm products. The use of this optional term could help farmers communicate the value they have added to products and ensure a reward for those extra efforts, the report suggested.

The scheme is unlikely to make use of a logo or symbol, but rather utilising specific wording with a relatively low administrative, control and budgetary burden. It would also provide protection against misuse, fraud and misleading practices.

Debate over the origin of farming produce is a hot topic at the moment, with many industry leaders arguing that consumers should be given more information about where the items they buy come from.

An opinion piece written by John Kaye in the Guardian newspaper recently called for a reform to the manner in which the "free range" label is used on eggs around the world. The author suggested that some countries allow this to be used when their chickens were given limited space to roam.

Mr Kaye used the example of Australian chicken farming, claiming that the country's government has "blocked, reversed or subverted almost every move to stop free-range being little more than a marketing tool".

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