French MPs have voted to outlaw the use of words such as ‘meat’, ‘mince’ and ‘sausages’ to describe substitute meat products, claiming that these terms would mislead shoppers. The same rules will also apply to vegan dairy alternatives. Fines of up to €300,000 are in place for producers who fail to comply with these standards.
These restrictions on language are most likely a response to meat industry fears concerning the rising popularity of plant-based proteins in France. In 2016, sales of these products shot up by 82% and 30% of French consumers were said to be reducing their meat consumption.
Seeing as the largest share of meat replacement consumers classify themselves as flexitarian rather than vegetarian or vegan, it is clear that a large proportion of the market are looking for products that resemble meat in some way, whether that be by taste, smell or appearance. Meat replacement companies therefore will have to come up with innovative ways to maintain their rising stake in the market.
Will this change in labelling standards really make a difference in consumption patterns? These new regulations may make meat and dairy alternatives less visible on the shelves for the time being but they will not stop people’s desires to eat less meat and dairy.
Find out more about how the protein system is changing in Forum for the Future's latest report, The Future of Food.