Quality labels need to be easier for consumers to use and understand if shoppers are to be reconnected with farming, the European Commission has claimed.

The EC has proposed a number of initiatives aimed at improving communication of the quality of agricultural products. These include an extension of labelling identifying where products were farmed and examining the feasibility of adding optional terms such as ‘product of mountain farming’ or ‘traditional product’.

It also suggested the development of good-practice guidelines for private certification schemes to reduce confusion for consumers and red tape for farmers.

Other suggestions in the EC communication, published last week, included improving the single market for products under labelling schemes, especially for organic products, and improving international protection of geographical indications.

“EU farmers need to communicate better with consumers about the qualities of their products,” said commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel. “The EU is willing to help in this effort. We have a golden opportunity to bring more coherence and simplicity to our various labelling and certification schemes.”