EU 1169/2011; info, effects & implications

EU 1169 / 2011

Effects EU 1169/2011 for FMCG sector

No matter the size of your company, you have under a year left to comply with new EU regulation 1169/2011. This new regulation will be in effect as of December 13, 2014 and the clock is ticking for food producing companies to comply. Here’s how the regulation will affect your business:

Additional info

At first glance, the implications of EU 1169/2011 seem substantial but things may not be as bad as they look. The new rules merely are reordered and modified versions of existing ones. However, brand managers will still need to obtain and publish additional information regarding their products. Product data will now be required to include highlighted allergen info, nanotechnology properties, a broader scope of the ‘country of origin labeling’ and a nutritional declaration. Getting this information correct could contribute considerably to the regulatory burdens of your company. Unfortunately, obtaining this data will be mandatory for your labeling and online sales.

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Marketing restrictions

The way your products are marketed could change. The new labeling regulation stipulates that several pieces of information be included, such as ingredients, warnings and country of origin, just to name a few. Also, claims indicating food cures, or the prevention or treatment of diseases are no longer allowed. This will affect brands that focus on health gains as a key selling point, but it is important to note the boundaries here are quite vague. In addition to the labeling, your packaging will have to be redesigned to facilitate the new information requirements. On the plus side, however, long transition periods have been granted for these kinds of redesigns.

Online conditions

You probably want to sell your product online too. If you do – and I have no doubt you do – you will also need to meet certain requirements. In order to correctly inform online buyers, products offered online will be required to include the same product info that is found on the product packaging. Additionally, this product data must be kept up-to-date and complete at every single online point of sale. A brand manager will need to stay in touch with all channel administrators and constantly and proactively feed them any updated information in order to adhere to the new regulations. This could cost valuable time and money.

Additional Legal Info

Legal Impact of EU 1169/2011 for FMCGs and Retailers with regards to online sales.

There are a few general implications that all food-producing companies will experience with regards to EU 1169. These implications have to do with packaging, labeling, marketing and online sales. This latter category will be the focus of this blog, as we will be taking an in-depth look into the legal implications.

Briefly stated, regulation EU 1169 orders food information to be made available to consumers through all existing sales channels. Retail sale is one of them; here, the info must be shown on the actual package of the product. Other channels will hereby be referred to as ‘Distance Sales’. Distance sales, in this context, simply refer to online sales. So, through some form of communication, the mandatory information must be provided at the point of sale before a consumer purchases the product. Online, this will likely be a list that accompanies the photo, price and name of the product.

The question is, who is responsible for providing this info? The regulation is not very clear on this point. The text says: “this regulation shall apply to all food business operators at all stages of the food chain, where their activities concern the provision of food information to consumers,” but also “the food business operator responsible for the food information shall be the operator under whose name or business name the food is marketed.” So, food producers themselves will inform via the product packaging. However, ‘food information provision’ is more than just the information on the packaging; other means which can be used include modern technology tools, such as an online platform.

Which conclusions can be drawn?

Well, for starters, food-producing companies must ensure full and accurate food-product data in compliance with EU and national food information law.  That will require a significant amount of information be made available to the consumer before they purchase prepackaged food, either at a retailer or online. If online, this mandatory information must be available at each online point of sale (without charge to the consumer) prior to purchase. If the necessary information is not available, the product cannot be sold on that website.

But even more important: if the brand owner does not make the relevant information available to the retailer in a website friendly format, it will be hard for the retailer to sell the products via their website. A system of cooperation between the brand owner and retailer will be required to ensure that accurate and complete mandatory food information is available to the consumer prior to purchase. In other words, FMCGs and retailers will have to start thinking of online product data exchange options. They will have to make up their minds fast, because time is running out. EU 1169/2011 will be in effect as of December 13, 2014.

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