Pressure mounts on French country-of-origin scheme

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

France's COOL scheme came into force on 1 January 2017
France's COOL scheme came into force on 1 January 2017

Related tags: European union, European commission

FoodDrinkEurope (FDE) has challenged France’s controversial mandatory two-year country-of-origin labelling scheme for meat in ready meals and milk in prepared foodstuffs, claiming it would lead to higher production and consumer costs.

The trade body, which represents the European food and drink industry, is the latest critic of the initiative. It told this site France’s country-of-origin labelling (COOL) trial would lead to a 15% increase in the cost of product manufacturing.

A spokesman said enforcing the scheme on food producers would likely see an increase in 15% in the cost of making the product – a cost that may have to be passed on to consumers, they added. The decision would also have an impact on packaging, production processes, flexibility of sourcing as well as adding extra administrative burdens to business, FDE claims.

France’s COOL scheme came into force on 1 January 2017 and requires all ready meals with more than 8% meat content to specify where livestock was born, reared and slaughtered. It has been deeply controversial and earlier this week Jean-Luc Mériaux of the European Meat and Livestock Trading Union (UECBV) told this site the move could contribute to a “fragmentation of the single market”​.

Opposition

FDE has now added its voice to those in opposition of the scheme and said it believes the trial is a “hidden way of promoting national production”​.

“By making it more difficult for food producers to buy their raw products from abroad, the measure encourages them to source locally, without taking into consideration the difficulties this may cause: the supply chains of our industry are European (or more), not merely national,”​ a FDE spokesman told this site.

“The definition of the single market is to allow for free circulation of people, goods, capitals and services. How can ‘free circulation’ be guaranteed if the labelling of goods becomes so difficult that they cannot be bought in another Member State?”

France’s COOL scheme is set to run until December 31 2018, after which a report will be submitted to the European Commission detailing the results. If successful, the EC may consider rolling out the scheme to all member states.

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