'Not for EU' labels hurt investment and food exports, warns FDF boss

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

FDF chief executive Karen Betts has 'grave misgivings' over 'Not for EU' labels on food. Image: Getty, ericsphotography
FDF chief executive Karen Betts has 'grave misgivings' over 'Not for EU' labels on food. Image: Getty, ericsphotography

Related tags Brexit

‘Not for EU’ labels create unneeded cost and make UK food and drink producers less attractive to investors, according to the head of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

On and after 1st October 2024, no person may place prepacked meat, prepacked milk or prepacked dairy products on the market in Great Britain unless each single item bears an individual marking with the words ‘Not for EU’.

In a letter to minister of state Steve Baker, FDF chief executive Karen Betts expressed concern over the Government’s proposal to enforce ‘not for EU’ labelling for all food and drink listed on the EU’s list of controlled products when sold anywhere in the UK – except when it’s produced in Northern Ireland.

She warned the implementation of these labels would create significant complexity and cost into the operations of food and drink businesses – such an extensive change to food and drink labelling will likely run into the hundreds of millions of pounds.

Exports impacted

Exports will also be negatively impacted, with food and drink businesses not finding it viable to run separate UK and EU production lines. While currently exempt, SMEs will be disincentivised from growing and being forced to comply with the ‘not for EU’ labelling rules.

“Finally, investment: this new labelling regime will make investment in UK food and drink producers much less attractive,”​ Betts added. “We hear of investors already putting plans on pause, and considering investing in companies in the EU instead, from where they can decide about whether it’s worth supplying the UK market at all.”

Betts also questioned the necessity of the new labels, the why the UK still needed to follow EU rules on controlled products – especially when they are prone to change often, creating even more cost.

‘Grave misgivings’

“In short, food and drink producers have grave misgivings about this policy,”​ Betts concluded. “It will lead to higher prices amid a cost-of-living crisis and to lower investment at a time when investment in our sector is already down (investment in food and drink manufacturing fell by a third last year compared to 2019).

“We want to work with you to find an alternative to the government’s proposals, which addresses your concerns alongside ours.”

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has launched a consultation​ seeking stakeholders’ views on how best the implement the ‘Not for EU’ labelling requirements in Great Britain. The consultation close on 15 March 2024.

Meanwhile, Provision Trade Federation director general Rod Addy looks at the potential implications of the 'Not for EU' labelling requirement​ that will impact a number of food and drink manufacturers from October 2024.

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