What’s in a Name? Brands Call to Overturn Ban on Dairy-Like Terminology

A new petition is calling on the European Commission and Member States to reject Amendment 171. Challenger brand Oatly and Flora margarine owner Upfield are among the brands hoping to overturn the ban on dairy-like terminology for plant-based alternatives.

In October last year, the European Parliament voted in the amendment which bans dairy-like terms, once enforced terms such as ‘almond milk’ and ‘vegan cheese’, as well as ‘yoghurt-style and ‘cheese alternative’, will be prohibited for dairy-free products sold across the bloc.

While the European Dairy Association noted that challenging Amendment 171 would undermine clear consumer information, the ban was not well received by many outside the dairy industry. At the time the ban was introduced, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) said that Parliament’s decision was a pity and that such terms had nothing to do with consumer protection.

The European Parliament may have voted in favour of the ban, however, it has yet to be set in stone. Next up is a trialogue of negotiations – a conversation between three parties, in this case between Parliament, the EU Council of Ministers and the European Commission.

Oatly, Upfield, and ProVeg International argue that the ban is at odds with the EU’s aim to improve public health and environmental sustainability.

“This goes directly against the EU’s intent to promote more sustainable food production and makes it more difficult for consumers to choose plant-based options,” said Oatly’s Cecilia McAleavey, Director of Public Affairs and Sustainable Eating.

The dairy industry has been public about its support of Amendment 171 with the European Dairy Association arguing that non-dairy products cannot hijack the dairy terms and well-deserved reputation of excellence in milk and dairy.

The amendment will be discussed as part of the trialogues planned to start at the end of January.