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New European Rules on Voluntary Origin Labelling

Following several years of discussion, the EU Commission is in the final stages of developing supplementary rules to the EU’s voluntary origin labelling legislation, which will require companies to note the place of provenance of the primary ingredient of their product.

While origin labelling is and will remain voluntary for dairy products under EU legislation, the supplementary rules would require companies which chose to note the origin of their product to also note the origin of its primary ingredient, should it be different to that of the stated origin.

This raises particular issues for cross border cooperatives in Ireland, who process milk from both sides of the Irish border.

The stated origin refers to statements, terms and place names, pictorial presentations or symbols such as flags. However, ICOS is happy to note that existing trademarks are currently excluded from the new rules. Trademarks and brand names allow consumers to recognise a company, build an association between it and certain standards and enable cooperatives to add value to their product. Introducing new rules for pre-existing trademarks would therefore be highly damaging for both businesses and consumers.

By Alison Graham

European Affairs Executive