french meat labelling

The new food labelling rules on EU products entering the GB market will now come into force on 1 January 2024

The UK government has announced a delay to remaining import controls on EU goods entering Great Britain in light of the current supply chain woes caused by the war in Ukraine and the rise in global energy costs.

New Brexit labelling rules affecting a swathe of food products coming into the country from the EU that were due to come into force on 1 October 2022 have now been postponed to 1 January 2024.

Defra said in an official statement that the decision was “in line with protecting consumers from unnecessary costs”.

The legislation was set to affect labelling on goods coming from the bloc into GB market, including beef and veal, minced meat, olive oil, fruit & vegetables and wine.

Other major food labelling changes that were set to be inforced next month related to Food Business Operator (FBO) addresses, as products from EU producers would be required to have a UK-based vendor or importer address on the label.

However, this meant separate labels would be needed for products intended for the GB market, which would likely result in higher costs for suppliers and importers.

Delaying the labelling requirements will mean that said labelling terms and EU addresses will continue to be permitted on the GB market for an additional 15 months, which would “help UK food businesses” according to Defra.

Furthermore, the deadline to use “UK/EC” identification marks – required on products of animal origin – in GB has also been extended to 1 January 2024.

The government said this would allow FBOs to continue to deplete existing stocks of labels, wrapping and packaging until the new rules come into force.

The government is set to publish more detailed guidance relating to these import controls in the coming weeks. 

Industry bodies have been calling for a relaxation of labelling laws for months, particularly following the effects the Ukraine war had on oil exports and the wider supply chain.

“The government has concluded that in this context it would be wrong to impose new administrative requirements on businesses who may pass on the associated costs to consumers already facing pressures on their finances,” said the British Frozen Food Federation.

Earlier this week, the BFFF called for new prime minister Liz Truss to “act immediately to address the cost of production crisis being faced by UK manufacturers”. 

“There has rightly been a great deal of focus on the rising costs of energy, but less debate about the knock-on effects it is having on businesses that keep the country fed,” said CEO Rupert Ashby.

“Our members have been hit with a triple whammy of rising costs for ingredients, packaging and transport, all of which are driving up production costs, which will have to be passed on to consumers if they are to stay in business. This will drive up the cost of the weekly shop, making feeding a family unaffordable for many people.”

Truss yesterday (7 Septemer) appointed former minister for international trade Ranil Jayawardena as her secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, replacing former Defra secretary George Eustice.