Leatherhead Research has taken a detailed look at emerging and evolving regulations that will impact the sector in the short to medium term, drawing on regulatory challenges and priorities highlighted by its members.
In terms of environmental sustainability, the organisation described global regulatory requirements as ambitious, diverse and rapidly evolving. Packaging regulations rooted in the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra, it added, present difficulties for many food and beverage organisations. The European Commission has also recently published its proposed Green Claims Directive, which looks to help consumers make sense of labels and address greenwashing.
The complexity of global rules surrounding ‘less healthy’ products is the biggest concern related to health and wellness. And under the quality and safety banner, there are fears that regulations are behind the curve when it comes to breakthrough food production methods such as cell culture techniques. Confusion over permissible terminology for plant-based alternatives to animal-derived products is another major issue.
Nevertheless, despite the challenges of the regulatory landscape, the consultancy believes it also gives way to new opportunities. Dr Pretima Titoria, principal consultant: scientific & regulatory affairs at Leatherhead Food Research undertook the review with input from the consultancy’s wider team of scientists and global regulatory specialists. She says a detailed understanding of regulatory trends can underpin focussed innovation that delivers good commercial outcomes.
“Global regulations are in a state of flux, and concerns surrounding sustainability, consumer health and food safety are high on the agenda,” she explained. “The rapid evolution of requirements, combined with global disharmony, means it can be hard to make risk-based decisions. But food and beverage businesses are resilient and innovative, and these qualities will help the sector thrive despite the many challenges faced.”
According to Dr Titoria, companies that apply regulatory insights to commercial strategies will be best placed to drive successful business outcomes over the coming months and years.
“When you acknowledge existing or expected regulations in target markets at the front-end of product development, it’s much easier to address them efficiently and effectively,” she added. “It might be about devising a formula that satisfies health criteria for multiple markets or developing packaging that facilitates recycling within different countries’ waste management infrastructures. Pivoting and adapting to changing circumstances is also more straightforward when you’re armed with insights about what might lie ahead.”