NFU Scotland pushes for clearer food labels and consumer choice

NFU Scotland pushes for clearer food labels and consumer choice

Sustainability

NFU Scotland is urging both the UK and Scottish Governments to implement changes in food labelling, aiming to fortify the nation's food security and self-sufficiency while promoting the domestic production of top-quality food.

Addressing the audience at AgriScot, the largest Winter agricultural event in Scotland held at Ingliston outside Edinburgh on November 22, NFU Scotland's President, Martin Kennedy, emphasised the importance of a collaborative labelling initiative. This initiative, supported by Governments, retailers, food processors, the food service sector, catering, and consumers, seeks to appropriately acknowledge the high production standards within the country. The objective is to facilitate seamless support for domestic production throughout the entire food chain.

NFU Scotland has initiated discussions with policymakers and other stakeholders regarding the development of a new label. This label would distinctly identify food products where over 50% of ingredients have been sourced from outside the UK. The proposed label aims to enhance transparency in indicating the origin of food ingredients, enabling consumers to make more informed choices.

Speaking to a packed industry seminar, attended by more than 300 visitors to the event, Mr Kennedy said:

“As an industry we are extremely proud of what we produce and how we produce it, but sadly when it comes to generating a return, it doesn’t stack up.

“A labelling initiative could allow us to better inform our consumers about the origin of all the food and drink they are purchasing and allow them to make informed decisions. I firmly believe that this is where we could see Governments and industry working together like never before.

“I believe loyalty to domestic production from all parts of the food chain can be supported by legislative change to labelling and that would enhance our ability to keep producing food profitably and locally.

“It is a huge frustration to farmers and crofters when we regularly see our own produce, which has been raised and grown to some of the highest standards, being undermined by imports that often fail to meet or match our standards of production.

“Here in Scotland, we have a fantastic opportunity to address this through the Good Food Nation Act, expected early next year, whereby undisputed transparency of where our food comes from will allow our consumers to make a real informed choice. Our consumers showed real loyalty to our products throughout the recent pandemic, and we must build on that momentum.

“However, the success of any labelling initiative would be dependent on it being applied across the UK. This would be a real game changer in terms of supporting our own food producers.

“At Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ‘Farm to Fork’ summit in Downing Street earlier this year, which I attended, he gave a clear commitment to supporting domestic production, self-sufficiency and addressing our record on food security. More transparent labelling presents an opportunity to be part of that commitment.

“Clearly identifying where food has been sourced from will also highlight how robust and genuine our retailer and food service sector promises on supporting local produce really are.”

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