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European Food Policy Analysis


Food manufacturers and retailers need to track legal, regulatory and policy developments in food law to predict the scale of, and prepare for, upcoming changes that affect their operations and profit margins.

European food policy varies from food labelling, to health and safety standards, the banning or approval of certain ingredients and the regulation of marketing and advertising activities.

Legislative debates in the European Parliament and European Council, along with measures taken by the European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and member state regulatory authorities and government departments inform the development of both European and global food policies which have a direct effect on companies operating along the entire agri-food business chain.

Key facts about European food policy
  • Ongoing US tariffs on EU food manufacturers are expected to reduce some food and drink exports by up to 50% in 2020.
  • The EU’s biodiversity strategy for 2030 will ensure the food industry legally has to make efforts to protect biodiversity in the food production chain.
  • The European Commission is offering a total of €200 million in co-financing to promote EU agri-food products to non-EU countries in 2020 to increase trade volumes.
  • There are several proposed changes to food policy that are under consideration for implementation over the next two years concerning the labelling and origin of products.
  • Nutrition labelling on food products has increased rapidly across a number of European countries and is likely to politically advance to be considered as an EU requirement.

Key themes affecting European food policy

The European food sector is impacted by a wide range of policies. Geopolitcal decisions such as trade deals, and the UK leaving the European Union in 2020, create the need for additional legal frameworks for food companies and manufacturers to abide by. Changing consumer habits and environmental sustainability continue to place increasing pressure on policy changes, including animal welfare legislation in the farming industry, better protection of biodiversity in the food supply chain, the phasing out of palm oil due to its global environmental impact and origin labelling on food products.

A revised novel foods regulation is giving the food industry scope to bring more innovative foods onto the market in 2020 whilst, at the same time, restrictions will remain on expanding genetically modified food technology. The new official controls regulation, which entered into force in December 2019, overhauls the previous regime and will tighten border controls on certain animals and products from third countries.

Major European food policy legislation and/or upcoming policies
Official Controls Regulation (2017/625)
In force December 2019
Revised Novel Food Regulation (2015/2283)
In force since 2018
Nutrient profiles in Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (1924/2006)
Set to be drawn up in 2020
Food contact materials Regulation (1935/2004)
Evaluation throughout 2020
Five “Breakfast Directives”
Revision set for 2020

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