Policy Picks: Australian plant-based product labels, South Korean food supply goals, India's health star ratings and more feature in our round-up

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Australian plant-based product labels, South Korean food supply goals, India's health star ratings and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks. ©Getty Images
Australian plant-based product labels, South Korean food supply goals, India's health star ratings and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks. ©Getty Images

Related tags: Policy, regulations

Australian plant-based product labels, South Korean food supply goals, India's health star ratings and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks.

Food label fight: Australian plant-based industry lambasts ‘restrictive regulations’ proposal

Australia’s plant-based sector is seeing red over recommendations from senators to restrict the use of traditional animal product terms on packs, and there could be further policy woes for firms in the cultured meat space.

Regulations to govern plant-based product labelling have been a major source of debate between the plant-based sector and traditional animal-based agricultural product industries in Australia for several years now, with Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud even hosted roundtable-style discussions since back in 2020.

Recommendations that have been made by a recent senate inquiry have turned out to be less-than-satisfactory for the plant-based sector, with many of these recommending tougher mandatory labelling governance for the sector and the possible ban of using traditional animal-based product labels such as ‘meat’, ‘sausage’ or ‘steak’.

Step up to the plate: South Korea orders local authorities to implement food supply goals

South Korea’s government has instructed local authorities to play a bigger role in the nation’s food supply strategy, as well as pumping in cash for new food tech and sustainability projects.

It comes after South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) revised the local Basic Framework Act on Agriculture, Rural Community and Food Industry. As part of the policy, a major change will see local governments being mandated to step up efforts in terms of direction, implementation and promotion.

“The [specified inclusion of] local governments in the policy is expected to provide a stable basis for local food plans, and has been added to guarantee the availability of food for residents in all localities as well as to enhance the sustainability of the food system,”​ MAFRA stated via a formal statement.

Warning labels for packaged food? Indian regulator urged to go further with health star rating plan

The Indian food regulator is being urged to include on-pack ‘warning labels’ for sugar, salt and fats as part of its upcoming health star rating system for packaged foods.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) recently announced that it would be implementing new front-of-pack labelling (FoPL) rules for packaged foods based on a new health star rating (HSR) system. This is in response to a government-commissioned study conducted by the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

“The study [was conducted on over 20,000 consumers] and has found the HSR system to be most preferred by Indian consumers,”​ FSSAI CEO Arun Singhal said.

“We will be providing ratings for packaged foods [based on] the nutritional information per 100mg of the products, [and] our licensing application portal will include a new module [where licensees can] generate HSR certificates based on evaluation.

Trade challenge resolved: Australia and Vietnam reach agreement to solve supplement export dispute

Officials have reached an agreement to improve access of certain Australian supplements to the Vietnamese market, after a bureaucratic dispute threatened to hit trade.

The Australian regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) recently announced that the Vietnam Food Authorities (VFA) have agreed to accept Certificates of Pharmaceutical Product (CPPs) or Certificates of Listed Product (CLPs) for supplement products from Australia.

Previously, there were uncertainties surrounding export certification requirements, especially since certain supplements and complementary medicines that were regulated as therapeutic goods in Australia were regulated as foods in Vietnam.

Soy decrees: Japan enforces stricter labelling rules for beverages to cut fraudulent claims and ensure fair trade

Japan has announced stricter labelling regulations for soybean milk and other soy-related beverages with the aim of preventing fraudulent or exaggerated claims and ensure fair competition between brands in the very competitive local market.

According to GlobalData, the soy milk and drinks market in Japan was valued at over JPY160bn (US$1.4bn) as of 2020, and domestic soy milk production is well above 400 million litres yearly. Competition is fierce as there are many soy milk manufacturers in the market, and public concerns have been on the rise in recent years regarding exaggerated or fraudulent claims being made on product labels.

In response to this issue, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) and Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) recently issued stricter labelling rules for soy milks and beverages, covering both liquid and powdered forms of these.

“These new labelling rules will be enforced under the Fair Competition Code to prevent unreasonable marketing to and attraction of consumers [by the product brands], so as to ensure consumers are able to make thoroughly voluntary and rational choices when purchasing soy beverages,”​ said both agencies via a joint statement.

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