UK Government proposes “fairer” food labelling to elevate British farmers

Posted: 12 March 2024 | | No comments yet

Steve Barclay announces UK Government’s plan to adjust food labels, placing greater emphasis on recognising British farmers.



Steve Barclay, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has announced that as a way to “ensure” British farmers’ products “get the recognition they deserve”, fairer food labelling measures have been proposed by the UK Government.

According to Barclay, the proposals “ensure greater transparency around the origin of food and methods of production” and work towards “helping consumers make decisions that align with their values”.

But what will the consultation concern? The UK Government has shared via its website that the consultation spotlights how to improve country of origin labelling for certain goods, including how and where this information is displayed and what products should be included.

In addition, it has shared proposals to require ‘method of production’ labelling on pork, chicken and eggs, including a mandatory five-tier label for both domestic and imported products, something that would  differentiate between those that fall below, meet and exceed baseline UK animal welfare regulations.

“This government backs British farmers, who work hard to produce food to world-leading standards and maintain our nation’s food security. British consumers want to buy their produce, but too often products made to lower standards abroad aren’t clearly labelled to tell them apart,” explained Barclay.

UK Government to “boost” support for British farmers

“That is why I want to make labelling showing where and how food is produced fairer and easier to understand – empowering consumers to make informed choices and rewarding our British farmers for producing high-quality, high-welfare food.”

The announcement from Barclay comes following fresh measures that were designed to support farmers and promote fairness in the supply chain, including farming grants unveiled by the Prime Minister at an NFU conference in February, and new regulations to promote fair and transparent contracts for dairy farmers.

Sharing British supermarket Waitrose’s stance on the update, James Bailey, Executive Director of Waitrose, shared: “We have a proud history supporting British farmers and are the leading retailer for animal welfare. Everyone deserves to know where their food comes from – how it was grown, reared or made.


“Better information boosts demand for higher standards, as we’ve seen with mandatory egg labelling. Extending this to more products benefits shoppers, farmers, and animals.”

Going further, Bailey stated that Waitrose “supports the government’s efforts to improve transparency and ensure shoppers aren’t misled, while giving farmers recognition for their commitment to animal welfare”.

The consultation is set to run for eight weeks and will close at 23:45 on 7 May 2024.

Sharing it’s stance on the importance of fair food labels, the UK Government has said that packaging that back British farmers is “vital for the UK economy”. With this in mind, the consultation will be garnering information on whether it should be mandatory requirement to state the origin of meat, seafood and dairy products outside of the home.

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to comment on Defra’s proposed food labelling consultation and we are glad to see that progress to help the consumer understand more about how and where their food has been produced is beginning to be considered,” said Fidelity Weston, Chair of the Consortium of Labelling for the Environment, Animal Welfare and Regenerative Farming (CLEAR).

“We in the UK have some of the highest farming standards, producing quality food products. That needs to be recognised in the marketplace. To achieve this, we need a clear definition of the many terms used to describe the method of production, and transparency and honest data about how the food was produced on the farm, and right through to the end product.”

“Through this, we have an opportunity to support the transition put in place by the Government to move the UK to more agroecological farming methods with improved outcomes for nature, the environment and people, alongside food production,” concluded Weston.

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