EU updates marketing standards for honey, fruit juices, jams and milk

The EU has adopted new marketing standards for honey, fruit juices, jams and milk, as part of its ‘breakfast directives’, which aim to ensure the quality and transparency of these food products. The new standards, which were agreed upon by the European Commission, the Council and the Parliament, will enter into force in 2025.

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New rules for honey: stricter origin labelling and testing

The new rules for honey will require mandatory country of origin labelling for honey blends, with the percentage share of each origin. However, EU member states will have the option to only require percentages for the four largest shares when they account for more than 50% of the blend.

The new rules will also introduce harmonised methods of analysis to detect honey adulteration with sugar, which will limit fraudulent practices and increase the transparency of the food chain.

The new rules for honey respond to the concerns of consumers and producers, who have been calling for more clarity and accuracy on the origin and quality of honey. According to a report by the EU, almost half of the honey imported to the bloc in 2023 had been adulterated with added sugars, and 46% of the samples did not meet the EU’s Honey Directive.

New rules for fruit juices: less sugar, more innovation

The new rules for fruit juices will allow the production and marketing of reduced-sugar fruit juices, which will have at least 30% less sugars than regular fruit juices. The new rules will also introduce three new categories for these products: ‘reduced-sugar fruit juice’, ‘reduced-sugar fruit juice from concentrate’, and ‘concentrated reduced-sugar fruit juice’.

The new rules will also enable the use of new technologies and processes for fruit juices, such as cold-pressed, high-pressure, and pasteurised, which will offer more innovation and market opportunities for fruit juice producers.

The new rules for fruit juices aim to promote a shift to healthier diets, as well as to reflect the changing consumer preferences and expectations. According to a survey by Expedia, 42% of consumers said that they would choose a fruit juice with less sugar, and 36% said that they would prefer a fruit juice made with new technologies or processes.

New rules for jams: more fruit, less sugar

The new rules for jams will increase the minimum amount of fruit content in jams from 350g to 450g per kg, and in extra-jams from 450g to 500g per kg. The new rules will also reduce the minimum amount of sugar content in jams from 60% to 55%, and in extra-jams from 65% to 60%.

The new rules will also allow the use of alternative sweeteners, such as stevia, xylitol, and erythritol, which will offer more choice and variety for consumers, especially those with diabetes or other health conditions.

The new rules for jams aim to improve the quality and nutritional value of these products, as well as to align them with the international standards of the Codex Alimentarius. The new rules will also benefit the producers of jams, who will be able to use more local and seasonal fruits, and to reduce their costs and environmental impact.

New rules for milk: simpler labelling, more options

The new rules for milk will simplify the labelling and naming of milk products, by removing the distinction between ‘evaporated’ and ‘condensed’ milk, and by allowing the use of the term ‘milk’ for all types of milk, regardless of their fat content. The new rules will also allow the production and marketing of lactose-free dehydrated milk, which will cater to the needs of lactose-intolerant consumers.

The new rules will also harmonise the rules for the use of milk powder and milk protein in milk products, which will ensure a level playing field and fair competition among milk producers in the EU.

The new rules for milk aim to simplify and modernise the existing rules, which date back to 1971, and to adapt them to the current market situation and consumer demand. The new rules will also support the EU’s objectives of promoting sustainable food systems and animal welfare.

‘Breakfast directives’: ensuring the free movement and quality of food products

The new marketing standards for honey, fruit juices, jams and milk are part of the EU’s ‘breakfast directives’, which are a set of directives that regulate the composition, labelling, and presentation of certain food products. The ‘breakfast directives’ are more than 20 years old, and have been revised to reflect the changes and developments in the food market, driven by innovation and consumer demand.

The revision of the ‘breakfast directives’ also echoes the key messages of the EU’s ‘farm to fork’ strategy, which addresses the challenges of sustainable food systems and recognises the strong links between ‘healthy people, healthy societies and a healthy planet’. The revision of the ‘breakfast directives’ aims to ensure the free movement of food products within the internal market, and to help consumers make informed choices.

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