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Dairy Aisle Shake-Up: Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, and Morrisons Face Potential Impact from New Plant-Based Food Rules

Source: The DairyNews
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In an attempt to prevent consumer confusion between plant-based alternatives and traditional dairy products, new rules may soon prompt changes in the dairy aisles of major UK supermarkets, including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Aldi, and Lidl. Trading standards officers could issue guidelines, potentially banning terms such as “mlk,” “cheeze,” and “not milk” on labels, impacting products like 'I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter' and Alpro’s 'This Is Not Mlk'.
Dairy Aisle Shake-Up: Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, and Morrisons Face Potential Impact from New Plant-Based Food Rules
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The Plant-Based Food Alliance UK (PbFA) plans to appeal to the environment secretary, expressing concerns about potential price increases due to the proposed changes. Marisa Heath, PbFA’s chief executive, emphasized the negative impact on an industry already grappling with the cost of living crisis, stating, “This could then have an impact on consumer prices too.”

Despite objections from the plant-based food industry, the latest guidance, dated January 2024, has not been watered down. The draft opinion, produced by the Food Standards and Information Focus Group (FSIFG), emphasizes the need for clear differentiation between traditional and plant-based products.

Companies producing plant-based foods are advised to avoid using word tricks or similar-sounding terms, and fun names like "m!lk" or "m*ilk" might need to be reconsidered. While some products like custard creams and cream crackers are exempt, suggestions for alternative terms like "soya dessert fermented with live cultures" and "vegan soft-white balls with a light cheese flavor" are offered.

Critics, including Bryan Carroll of Oatly UK and Ireland, argue that assuming consumers cannot differentiate between products is disrespectful. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs clarified that the draft opinion is independent of the government, and there are currently no plans to change existing legislation in this area.
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