Consumers reluctant to pay for origin labelling

The majority of consumers are interested in origin labelling for meat used as an ingredient but are not willing to pay for it, according to new report by the European Commission (EC).

The report published by the EC on Tuesday (17 December) looked into the possibility of mandatory origin labelling for all products where meat is used as an ingredient.

It found 90% of consumers were interested in origin labelling, although understanding of origin information across EU member states is varied.

Additionally, it showed that motivation and reasons for wanting the information also differed between member states, but price and quality remained the main concerns throughout.

However, consumers remain reluctant to cover the cost of such labelling. The report stated: “Strong consumer interest in origin labelling is not reflected in the consumer’s willingness to pay the additional cost that would be incurred in providing that information. At price increases of less than 10%, the consumers’ willingness to pay falls by 60-80%.”

Head of trade development for Eblex Peter Hardwick said the report took “supply chain concerns” which were raised due to the horsemeat scandal earlier this year into account.

Hardwick said: “The recent legislation on origin labelling only covers fresh/frozen meat in its unprocessed form as a single, stand alone item. This legislation has taken several years to develop and at the beginning of that process a decision was made not to include processed products where meat was used as an ingredient due to the complexity of doing so.

“It had always been the intention of the Commission to consider this wider issue at some stage and the horsemeat issues have certainly been a catalyst for this. The report is, by its own admission, the start of a long process that will need wider discussion including consideration of the possible impact on cost both to operators and regulators and the corresponding benefits.”

Hardwick further explained that the report implied that consumers “would be reluctant to pay even if the costs of providing this information was at or around 10%”, despite their concern.

“The challenge therefore will be to provide sufficient transparency without significantly adding to cost,” he added.

The EC will discuss the findings with the EU member states and European Parliament further before considering the next appropriate steps.

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