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ProVeg condemns French Government’s Decree banning 'meaty' plant-based food names

March 4, 2024

Food awareness organization, ProVeg International, has described the French government’s Decree restricting the labeling of plant-based foods as a “very disappointing and backward” move.

The Decree, announced on Tuesday, 27 February 2024, prohibits the use of 'meaty' names for plant-based alternatives to meat products. The Decree bans 21 words, including 'cutlet', 'steak', 'escalope', and 'ham'. Violators of the law face fines of up to €7,500 for companies and €1,500 for individuals.

The Decree is based on a 2020 law, the enforcement of which was suspended in June 2022 following a complaint from Proteines France, a consortium of French companies selling plant-based food. The law also faced international criticism and is currently before the European Court of Justice for potentially violating consumer rights and European Union market regulations.

“This is a hugely disappointing and backward development," stated Jasmijn de Boo, Global CEO, ProVeg International. "This Decree is predicated on claims that the inclusion of ‘meaty’ terms on plant-based foods confuses consumers. The opposite is true. There’s a growing demand for plant-based alternatives, where consumers are increasingly seeking out plant-based options for health, environmental, and ethical reasons. Consumers deserve transparent and informative labelling that empowers them to make informed decisions about the foods they buy, without needing to decipher unfamiliar, newly made-up product names.”

By passing the Decree, the government is disregarding evolving consumer preferences and the rapidly expanding alternative protein market. Through contradictory laws and enforcement mechanisms, the French government is placing French companies at a huge disadvantage in a rapidly growing industry. By 2035, alternative proteins are projected to make up 11-22% of the protein market, with a US$290 billion market valuation.

“The French government should follow the example already set by neighboring countries, such as Germany and Denmark, by investing in growing the plant-based industry,” continued de Boo.

“Leading scientific bodies, such as the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have already made it crystal clear that we must promote the shift to more plant-based diets if we are to have a chance of staying within the internationally agreed 1.5 degree temperature target set in Paris in 2015. The Government should be encouraging the consumption of healthy, climate-friendly food as people across Europe continue to decrease their meat consumption,” de Boo concluded.

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