EU marketing standards aim to ensure high product quality, consumer protection and regulatory consistency in the EU market. With the changing needs and habits of all players in the food supply chain, it was necessary to review existing marketing standards. The EC, in a bid to increase transparency in the rules governing the products it sells, reduce food waste and value sustainable and healthier production methods, has reviewed the existing marketing standards that apply to a range of agri-food products, such as fruits and vegetables, fruit juices, jams, honey, poultry and eggs.

The European Commission has traced the existing trade standards and made the following conclusions regarding:

  • Indication of place of origin: clearer and mandatory rules for marking the place of origin of honey, nuts and dried fruits, ripened bananas, as well as cleaned, processed and cut fruits and vegetables (such as packaged lettuce leaves);
  • Food waste: the proposed changes address food waste and packaging waste. For example, so-called “ugly” fruits and vegetables (with external defects, but still suitable for local/direct consumption), sold to consumers locally and directly by producers, would be exempt from marketing standards. Their recovery could provide consumers with more opportunities to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at more affordable prices and benefit producers operating in short supply chains. Selected products that have been affected by natural disasters or other exceptional circumstances may also be sold if they are safe for consumption;
  • packaging: products intended for donation may be exempt from major labeling requirements. This will reduce bureaucracy and labeling, thereby encouraging donations;
  • Fruit juices: fruit juices will be allowed to carry the description “no added sugar” to clarify that, by definition, unlike fruit nectars, they cannot contain added sugars, which most consumers are unaware of. In addition, in order to meet the growing consumer demand for products with lower sugar content, the label of reformulated fruit juice can state “reduced sugar fruit juice.”
  • Jams and marmalades: the mandatory fruit content in jams will be increased from 350 g to a minimum of 450 g (up to 550 g for the highest quality) per kilogram of finished product. With the overall increase in fruit content, consumers will be offered products with less simple sugars and more fruit than today. The term “marmalade,” previously allowed only for citrus jams, will be allowed for all jams to introduce the possibility of aligning the product name with the most commonly used name;
  • Eggs: egg marking will take place directly on the farm, improving traceability.

When will the updated trading standards take effect?

The proposals for fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs and poultry refer to delegated and implementing acts. On the European Commission’ s website until June 16, 2023. there is an opportunity to send opinions to the submitted documents. After the public consultation, the EC will compile a summary of all submitted opinions, present them to the European Parliament and the Council as input to the legislative debate. The proposals on jams, marmalade, fruit juices and honey refer to directives and will be subject to the ordinary co-legislative procedure of the European Parliament and the Council before their publication and entry into force.

What is the importance of trade standards?

For agri-food products to enter EU markets and be sold to consumers, they must comply with EU marketing standards or internationally established standards. Marketing standards are concerned with the external characteristics of products and invisible features that result from specific production processes, such as the fruit content of jams. They apply equally to both EU and imported products.

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