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Plant-based meat: a new decree bans the use of meat terminology

Viande végétale

The French Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty wants to ban the use of the words “steak”, “sausage” or “schnitzel” to describe plant-based meat, to avoid confusing consumers with “misleading claims”. This decision has been widely contested by the foodtech industry. The experts at AURIS Finance, a consultancy specialising in mergers and acquisitions, explain.

Soy steak, veggie hot dogs, and other vegan sausages will soon have to change their names. For Marc Fesnau, Minister for Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, “putting an end to misleading labelling claims is a government priority”. This latest stance reignites the tug-of-war that has pitted the vegan lobby against the meat lobby for years.

A repeatedly rejected decree

It all started in 2017, when an initial clause was inserted into the Egalim law, prohibiting the use of names associated with products of animal origin in the promotion of products of plant origin. A few months later, the clause was removed by decision of the Constitutional Council. Three years later, the Labelling Law prohibited the use of names commonly used for food products of animal origin in the labelling of plant products. Following this law, an initial decree published in June 2022 was suspended by the Conseil d’État. The government has therefore revised its plans and submitted a new draft decree to the European Commission on 23 August. Unless the Commission decides otherwise, the decree is expected to be effective in the coming months.

A few months to review labelling

Companies will have three months to adapt their labelling. Products already labelled may nevertheless be marketed until stocks run out. A notice to the industry, published in the Official Journal, contains a list of terms that may no longer be used to describe foods containing plant proteins. For example, “charcutier – charcutière” or “boucher – bouchère” are not allowed. The decree also sets the maximum amount of vegetable protein that can be contained in meat products and called as such. For example, to use the name Chipolata, a sausage must contain a maximum of 1% vegetable protein (expressed as dry extract).

The meat industry strikes back

In France, the battle between traditional meat producers and new competitors is fierce. Following the launch of the “Everything’s tasty without the pig” advertising campaign by 77 Foods, a company specialising in plant-based meats, the Interprofession Nationale Porcine (INAPORC) lodged a complaint with the Advertising Ethics Committee. Although the complaint was deemed “unfounded” by the panel, every new product launch is closely scrutinised by the meat industry, which argues that one sector does not have the right to rely on the image of another in order to develop.

Our experts at your side

With 27% of French people eating plant-based meat every month, the market is still in its infancy. Many innovative companies are developing with great market prospects. At AURIS Finance, our experts specialised in the agri-food and retail sectors can help you find the right financing solutions. We can also assist you in your search for a target to acquire or in your disposal project.

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