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US Food Policy Analysis

Shifting policies in Washington D.C. can affect many links in the supply chain for the US food industry, which is one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the US. Food companies need specialized information on a variety of food regulations that can impact compliance, whether it is to track food additive approvals, follow inspection trends, keep up with food label changes, or monitor emerging issues such as cannabis and cell-based meats.

Key facts about US food policy
  • The growth of plant-based and cultivated meat is increasing pressure on US regulators to change food policies. Sales of plant-based foods grew 20% in 2018, compared to 2% in overall food sales.
  • Based on increased consumer focus on sustainability, animal welfare and growing worldwide demand for protein, new start-up companies are working to bring cell-cultured meat to market, a move poised to shake up the traditional meat industry. The global cell-based market is predicted to be worth $15.5 million by 2021 and $20 million by 2027.
  • US consumers bought more than $200 million cannabidiol (CBD) supplements, ointments and infused foods and beverages last year, and the market is predicted to top more than $1.5 billion by 2025.
  • The US imports about 15% of its overall food supply (13.8 million food shipments in 2018), including 55% of fresh fruit, 32% of vegetables, and 94% of seafood.
  • Blockchain is playing a role in the food industry’s embrace of transparent traceability.

Key themes affecting US food policy

One of the most high-profile issues facing US food and supplement manufacturers is the lack of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules on cannabidiol (CBD) in foods, which has blocked major companies from taking advantage of the lucrative market. Will there be a legal pathway for cannabis as an ingredient in food and supplements?

We expect increasing enforcement of the Food Safety Modernization Act after the FDA allowed a phase-in of some of the requirements for US and foreign suppliers. All eyes will be on the production industry as it struggles to prevent future romaine outbreaks in the states of California and Arizona, while the FDA continues tinkering with agriculture water standards.

Food labelling policy should continue to shape the marketplace as regulators try to define “healthy,” modernize standards of identity and weigh in on whether plant-based dairy alternatives should be labelled with traditional dairy terms. Dietary supplement firms need to keep an eye on FDA, which signalled interest in modernizing ingredient reviews.

The FDA and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will need to make tough decisions on a new regulatory blueprint for food safety controls and the labelling of cell-cultured products derived from the stem cells of animals.

With retailers implementing policies to control and eliminate use of antibiotics in poultry, pressure is building on the beef industry to catch up.

And food companies will need to continue navigating trade wars and the impact of the next presidential election on congressional leaders and future food policy priorities.

Major US food policy legislation and/or upcoming policies
The FDA must issue a final rule that defines “high risk” foods, which triggers stricter recordkeepingNovember 2022
Compliance with the USDA’s National Bioengineered Food Disclosure law becomes mandatory for all company sizesJanuary 2022
All hemp producers must be licensed by state/tribe authority under the 2018 Farm BillNovember 2020
FDA compliance deadline for large companies to use revamped Nutrition Facts label and serving size changes on food packagesJanuary 2020, with enforcement set to begin for most companies in July 2020
Notice to USDA for hog slaughter plants that want to convert to the New Swine Inspection SystemMarch 2020

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At IHS Markit we offer market-leading information solutions covering all aspects of policy and regulation impacting the agribusiness market, from policy on agrichemicals, technology and labour used by farmers to the trade policy, food manufacturing effecting the commodities and food that are an output of agriculture.

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IEG Policy’s daily news service is the market leader in updates on the agricultural and food regulatory sectors, with comprehensive and on-the-ground coverage of both the US markets stemming from Washington and European developments from Brussels. A subscription to IEG Policy’s US Food offering also includes proprietary research and analysis, opinion pieces, as well as access to a range of policy monitoring tools focusing on the EU Common Agricultural Policy to a database of US approved food chemicals.

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