Policy Picks: Regulatory updates from Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Regulatory updates from Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks. ©Getty Images
Regulatory updates from Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks. ©Getty Images

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Regulatory updates from Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand and more feature in this edition of Policy Picks.

Japan net alcohol labelling: Voluntary scheme to be eased in to avoid eco and cost impacts – Kirin

Japanese firms will gradually introduce a new voluntary net alcohol labelling scheme to avoid cost and environmental impacts, according to beer giant Kirin.

The Japanese government approved the net alcohol labelling scheme as part of the national Basic Plan for the Promotion of Measures to Cope with Alcohol Health Disorders (Phase 2) in March 2021, which calls for alcoholic drink labels to replace ABV alcohol percentages (%) with net alcohol content (g).

So far, this scheme is a voluntary one for the industry, but many firms have already expressed their willingness to participate and implement this as per government recommendations, as is commonly seen in Japan when a suggested directive or national plan is announced.

“Cabinet approval of this plan really accelerated Kirin’s consideration of this scheme, and although the labelling of net alcohol is only a corporate obligation [and not a policy regulation] at this point, Kirin believes that this is part of our social responsibility,” ​Kirin Holdings Corporate Communications Manager Naoto Kobuna told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

No more PVC: Taiwan latest market to eliminate PVC as food packaging material

Taiwan has become the latest international market to start eliminating the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in food packaging, citing environmental and sustainability concerns over over-usage of the material.

The Taiwanese Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) announced on its website that effective July 1 2022, the use of PVC to make food packaging will be restricted, starting with flat packaging materials, and that this would affect all firms involved in the manufacturing, importation and sales of food packaging.

“It has been decided to restrict the use of PVC in food packaging starting the [second half of] this year in order to reduce the risk of harm to the environment and also public health caused by this material,”​ the EPA stated via a public statement.

Manufacturers pay? Foodstuffs NZ cuts prices to win consumer favour but industry says brands could count the cost

New Zealand’s food and grocery sector says manufacturers could end up footing bill after one of the nation’s largest chains Foodstuffs cuts prices to win back consumer – and likely government – favour.

The local Commerce Commission carried out a study into the state of competition within the grocery sector, concluding that the competition ‘is not working well for consumers’.​ ​This led the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council (NZFGC) to declare victory in its 12-year battle to both break the local retail duopoly held between Foodstuffs and Countdown/Woolworths, as well as to establish a formal Grocery Code of Conduct.

However, according to NZFGC Chief Executive Katherine Rich, although some important changes are now set in motion such as the Code and a regulatory body to ensure its enforcement - both of which Rich has lauded and expressed 'high​ praise​' for - s​ome changes that would have more direct impact on market competition have not been prioritised.

“For suppliers, the report was a victory and a huge leap forward on the transparency and scrutiny of supermarkets, the likes of which we have never seen [where] changes will affect every part of the network,”​ she said.

Export expertise: Japan reveals new guidelines to help food firms maximise overseas growth

The Japanese government has published a set of national export and expansion guidelines with the aim of helping local food and beverage businesses expand the reach of their products into overseas markets.

This is on the heels of Japan having achieved record-breaking food and beverage export numbers in 2021 valued at JPY1.24tn (US$9.56bn), driving the local Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to draft a set of national guidelines for the overall food industry to achieve even more outstanding growth moving forward.

“Today, many of Japan’s food and beverage products reach overseas consumers via the exports pathway [where these are produced in Japan and then shipped out], but in the future as we strengthen our ties with overseas markets we want to go beyond this and also localise our production in these markets,”​ said the MAFF Exports and International Affairs Bureau via a formal statement.

New Zealand dairy farming’s water use under scrutiny

New Zealand is facing new questions about the impact of its dairy system after research claimed that every litre of dairy milk produced in Canterbury can require up to 11,000 litres of water to dilute the pollution from its production.

Analysis carried out by the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University of Wellington and published in the Australasian Journal of Environmental Management,​ revealed the nitrate grey water footprint for Canterbury ranged from 433 to 11,110 litres of water per litre of milk, depending on the water standards applied.

Lead author Dr Mike Joy said: “This footprint is higher than many estimates for global milk production, and reveals that footprints are very dependent on inputs [such as feed and fertiliser] included in the analyses and on the water quality standards applied to the receiving water.”

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