Agri-Food News from Europe - July 2016

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Salon International de l'Agroalimentaire (SIAL), International Trade Fair for Food and Beverage Products
Paris, October 16 – 20, 2016

Veggie World, National trade fair for vegetarian and vegan products
Düsseldorf, October 28 – 30, 2016

Brau Beviale 2016, Trade fair for raw materials, technologies, and logistics of beverage production
Nuremberg, November 8 – 10, 2016

EuroTier, International Trade Fair for animal production
Hanover, November 15 – 18, 2016

Heath Ingredients (Hi) Europe & Natural Ingredients (Ni), Health and Natural Ingredients Europe
Frankfurt, November 29 – December 1, 2016


International Green Week, Exhibition for the Food Industry and Agriculture
Berlin, Germany, January 20 – 29, 2017

IPM, International Trade Fair for Plants and Horticulture
Essen, Germany, January 4 – 27, 2017

ISM, International Trade Fair for Sweets & Biscuits, Snacks
Cologne, Germany, January 29 – Feb 1, 2017

Fruit Logistica, International Trade Fair for Fruit and Vegetable Marketing
Berlin, Germany, February 8 – 10, 2017

BioFach, World Organic Trade Fair, Nürnberg, Germany
February 15 – 18, 2017

Press Review

German / European Union (EU) Economy at a Glance

German economy: Schäuble clings to 'black zero' fetish in German budget

Finance Minister Schäuble has presented Germany with another balanced budget to cement his reputation for austerity. But, with the country in need of social investment and interest rates low, isn't it time to borrow?

Of the many issues embedded in a national budget, one thing was always going to be clear when the German cabinet agreed its 2017-2020 finance plans on Wednesday: Wolfgang Schäuble was not going to give up his "schwarze Null."

The finance minister has staked his reputation to the "black zero." In 2014, Schäuble became the first finance minister to balance the German budget since 1969, and he has no intention of giving it up for the rest of his tenure, despite the many crises that Germany and Europe still face.

To that end, Schäuble resisted the German states' demands for extra billions to deal with last year's influx of refugees on the grounds that the states had actually received a bigger tax windfall than the federal government. And anyway, the perennially bullish veteran said on Wednesday, "some of their demands have little in common with serious estimates." His offer of 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) - as opposed to the €9 billion that the states wanted - is unlikely to placate them.

Nevertheless, Schäuble has freed up 19 billion euros of federal money to meet the challenges of integrating the new arrivals and fighting the oft-mentioned "causes of the refugee crisis." The security and defense budgets have also been raised, along with the education and housing budgets. And, despite the extra expenditures, the books are still balanced, though Schäuble has some leeway, not least because the government's tax revenue has been consistently booming.

A minor rift

There was predictable criticism of Schäuble's austerity drive. The leader of the biggest opposition party, the Left's Bernd Riexinger, advised that "you shouldn't be too in love with the black zero."

"What our children and grandchildren will miss are solid schools, apartments that are affordable and a good public infrastructure," Riexinger said in a statement.

And Riexinger had some backup from the business community: Eric Schweitzer, president of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), also said the government should consider spending more on infrastructure. "Growth and tax income only develop positively if companies in Germany remain competitive," he told the "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung."

There were similar noises from Schäuble's coalition partners, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), whose general secretary, Katarina Barley, blasted the "idea-free penny-pinching of Wolfgang Schäuble" as the latest budget details emerged.

Altogether, the German government is planning to spend €328.7 billion in 2017, rising to €349.3 billion in 2020, with big increases in the domestic security budget. The federal police will get €253.5 million more, including 2,000 new officers.

'Brexit doesn't change anything'

At Wednesday's press conference in Berlin, Schäuble boasted of his record since he took over his remit in 2009. "This finance policy is working out for people," he told reporters. His "solid and reliable" budget policy has contributed to economic development despite difficult circumstances.

The job market is healthy (unemployment is now at its lowest since Germany was unified in 1990), while wages and pensions have both increased. But his argument that all is well in Germany was undermined by the release of a new study on Wednesday that showed that child poverty, particularly in single-parent households, was still rising.

Schäuble also claimed that Germany's economic prospects would remain unaffected by Britain's vote to leave the European Union. This was very much a message directed at the SPD, who have used Brexit as a reason to apply more pressure for social investment. That would be the only way, Gabriel and European Parliament President Martin Schulz argued last week, to assuage the social dissatisfaction throughout Europe as exemplified by the British protest vote against Brussels: more education, more housing and a greater initiative against youth unemployment.

But Schäuble's dedication to austerity will not be shaken - even if, as many have pointed out, the current low interest rates mean that it could make sense to borrow money. He has shown as much with his iron-fisted demands on the Greek government and is likely to show it again in the negotiations with the UK government. However the numbers play out, he will make sure that the balance remains there. Perhaps it will be some comfort to the rest of Europe that he is as tough on his own country as he is on them.

Source:, July 6th, 2016, author: Ben Knight

Brexit – what's next?

The British voted by a small majority to exit the European Union. That has consequences for the wider economy and for the European Union (EU). The wholefood industry has so far shown itself to be not particularly worried. Can that be right? After the British decision to leave the EU companies in other industries set up crisis management teams or at least working groups to assess the impact, but in the wholefood sector most firms are operating the principle of 'business as usual'. In fact, there are many questions to be addressed, and they affect the organic sector too.

By voting for Brexit the British forfeit all the advantages that accrue from membership of the EU, from farm subsidies, freedom to choose where to work to free trade. "At this point in time it's too early to say whether this will give rise to a change in the offer of goods or the price of organic products in Britain and the EU," says Elke Röder, the managing director of the Bundesverband Naturkost Naturwaren (BNN). It's important, because turnover falls if the end customer won't accept rising prices.

In Britain itself the organic sector sees hard times ahead. "All British producers and traders who want to do business with the EU will have to abide by EU organic legislation," explains the International Association of Organic Farming Movements (IFOAM). They already have to comply, but they do so under better conditions. Before the referendum, the licensing organisation Organic Farmers & Growers (OF&G) was already warning the British that they would lose their right to participate in deciding issues of regulation. The head of OF&G, Roger Kerr, fears there will be economic impacts as well: "Organic is a strong and expanding sector in Europe and we're worried whether the opportunities this presents will be as freely available to British companies once the United Kingdom has left the EU."

United Kingdom Sales of Organic Products, 2000-2015
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Source: Soil Association Organic Market Reports
Millions £ 802 920 1,000 1,100 1,200 1,600 1,900 2,078 2,113 1,840 1,731 1,667 1,741 1,789 1862 1954
Few goods from the United Kingdom (UK) – but an important export market

It's true that the volume of goods from the UK to the Continent is comparatively small. "It is, however, an important export market for processed products. Nevertheless, I can't see any particular difficulties at the moment," maintains Peter Röhrig, the managing director of the Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (BÖLW - (German Organic Food Association). Hardly anybody is concerned about the possibility of tariffs that, after exiting, the country could put on products from the EU. "That seems unlikely and tariffs would apply to competitors in other EU states as well," says Röhrig.

How the Market Breaks Down (million £)
2014 2015 % Growth
Supermarkets 1303.7 1346 3.2
Box Schemes and Online 216.3 236 9.1
Catering 55.8 64.3 15.2
Other Independent Retailers 286.5 308 7.5
"It has never been easier to lose pounds"

But it's not only direct trade relations that are impacted by Brexit. After the vote to leave the value of the pound sterling fell by more than ten percent and reached its lowest level since 1985. "It has never been easier to lose pounds," somebody in the financial sector joked . However, at the same time the euro also came under pressure against the US dollar. Actors in the financial markets are assuming that Brexit will have a negative effect on the rest of the European Union (EU).

A lot of business is transacted in US dollars, including in the wholefood industry. Examples are imports of cocoa, groundnuts and tropical fruit, and coffee, coconuts and palm oil are, of course, not produced in the EU either. Importers still don't seem to be worried. The sometimes violent fluctuations on the money markets are dismissed as short-term reactions that balance out over a longer time-scale. But it could happen that in the medium term the price structure will adjust as the exchange rates settle down at new levels. If it gets too expensive we could expect a fall in demand.

British "Limited" still possible?

People clearly affected are workers and entrepreneurs who are British citizens and work in Germany. According to the EU, after Brexit they are likely to need "a permit for residence in Germany for the purpose of gainful employment." Some entrepreneurs have chosen the "limited"company form in keeping with British law. A limited company is easier, quicker and less costly to set up than a GmbH, and it was possible only because Britain was a member of the EU. "Anyone who has opted for it may well have to convert the company after Brexit to a GbR or a GmbH, which would of course add to their costs," Röhrig explains.

Numerous representatives of industry also assume that Britain will leave but, like Norway or Switzerland, will still be closely linked to the EU, so that there will not be any great change. That could be a dangerous conclusion to draw, because it's being said in the policitical world that they want to send a clear message and make the British feel the negative consequences of leaving. The thinking behind this is that it will prevent EU opponents in France, Austria, the Netherlands and other states from following suit and having the same success – so that "What's next?" doesn't become "Who's next?" This is why people in the wholefood industry should keep a close eye on what approach is being taken and prepare themselves well in advance for the consequences. "Basically, a similar situation applies to the organic industry as to other business sectors," Röder warns.

Source:, July 12, 2016

Current discussions and trends in Germany/the EU

The world at home in German kitchens

Germany is home to specialty restaurants from almost all regions of the world. But what about international dishes being cooked at home? The Federal Food Retailers' Association (BVLH) commissioned the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research to analyze the importance of international cuisine in private households.

More than one in four people in Germany greatly enjoy meals from foreign countries (27%). This group can be subdivided in another two groups: the 'authentics' (12% of the population) and the 'gourmets' (15%).

While the 'authentics' place great emphasis on original ingredients, 'gourmets' are more inclined to make compromises and use similar, easy-to-obtain ingredients to prepare foreign meals. Both groups have in common that enjoying food and eating together with friends or family are extremely important to them. Moreover, lovers of foreign food are, compared to the overall population, very open to new dishes and exotic ingredients from other cultures.

Eight out of ten Germans are open to international dishes

The majority of the population (the 'indifferent' group) is quite open to international cuisine, although their preference is not as strong as with the 'authentics' or 'gourmets'. All in all, the vast majority of the population (82%) is open to international cuisine. Just 18% of the population only like local food. The preference for international cuisine greatly varies among consumers. Women, under-30-year-olds as well as people with higher levels of education, high household incomes and a high willingness to spend more on food eat foreign dishes more often than the population as a whole.

Pizza, pasta and the like leading the list

When looking at different countries' cuisines, the German population has a clear favourite: Italian cuisine is by far the most popular in Germany. 76% of the population like pizza, pasta and the like, and 39% state it as their preferred foreign cuisine.

The popularity of Italian cuisine is also reflected in the list of the top fifteen foreign dishes: Pizza is the undisputed No. 1, followed by spaghetti (#2), pasta (#3), lasagne (#5), spaghetti bolognese (#8) and noodles (#10).

Freshness beats convenience

To consumers who at least occasionally cook foreign meals themselves, fresh ingredients are very important. 46% make sure to use as many fresh ingredients as possible and for 34% the use of fresh ingredients depends on the dish itself. Only 15% generally like to use prepared ingredients.

Less important than fresh ingredients are original ingredients. Just one third attaches great importance to using the exact same ingredients referred to in the recipe. More than half of the consumers are more pragmatic: Original ingredients can be replaced by similar products if they are easier to obtain.

The study was conducted in August 2015 on 1,402 persons aged 16 years and older who constituted a representative cross-section of the population.

Top 15 Favourite Foreign Cuisines in Germany
Foreign Cuisines I like My favourite
Source: BVLH Allensbach Speisen
Basis: Federal Republic of Germany, population aged 16+
Italian 76% 39%
Greek 56% 10%
Chinese 53% 9%
Spanish 37% 4%
Turkish 36% 3%
French 31% 5%
Balkan cuisine 29% 2%
Mexican 26% 2%
Thai 26% 3%
Indian 24% 2%
Eastern Europe 21% 2%
United States 20% 2%
Japanese 15% 1%
Vietnamese 12% 1%
Arabic, Persian, North Africa 12% 1%
Analysis of Consumer Groups
Consumer Group Consumer preference (% of total)
Source: BVLH Allensbach
Indifferents: They like foreign dishes, but not as much as the authentics and gourmet
Refusers: They only like German food
Authentics: They greatly enjoy eating foreign dishes and place great emphasis on using original ingredients
Gourmets: They greatly enjoy eating foreign dishes, but original ingredients are not not very important to them
Indifferents 55%
Regusers 18%
Authentics 12%
Gourmets 15%

Source: Lebensmittel Praxis 04/2016

Online food purchases in Germany – consumers doubt freshness

A recent study of market research institute Ipsos revealed that 6% of the Germans 'frequently' buy groceries online. Every fifth sees himself as 'rare buyer' (22%), every fourth (24%) has never bought foods online, but could imagine doing so, and almost every second interviewee (48%) would never consider buying groceries via Internet.

An important barrier to buying foods online is the aspect of freshness. Almost 9 out of 10 consumers (88%) criticise that they cannot verify the freshness of a product, 79% fear that the cooling chain could be interrupted, 71% miss not being able to perceive the product with all their senses when buying online. Unsurprisingly, consumers would primarily buy sweets and snacks or canned foods online (39%), or pasta and rice (38%), while bakery products (15%), frozen foods (13%) and fruit and vegetables (9%) as well as fish and meat (8%) rank low on the list.

But the price is important as well: Three quarters of the Germans (73%) fear high shipping costs or minimum orders, and thus prefer to buy groceries in the store. Those, who have already bought foods online, highly appreciate the convenience of online shopping (36%), availability of the products that are difficult to find in the store (34%), as well as being independent of store opening hours (27%).

Willingnes to buy groceries online
Grocery % willingness
Source: Ipsos study "Food online trade"
Sweets and snacks 39%
Canned foods 39%
Pasta, rice 38%
Beverages 36%
Foreign specialties 32%
Muesli, cereals 31%
Food supplements 28%
Delicatessen 23%
Pulses 23%
Bakery products 15%
Frozen foods 13%
Fruits and vegetables 9%
Eggs, chilled foods 8%
Fish and meat 8%
Non of the above 29%

Source: FischMagazin 6-7/2016

How Germans shop

Most important influencers of our buying decisions are personal recommendations, even at times of digital age. These are the findings of a short study realized by ECC Cologne, for which 2,000 smartphone users were interviewed. Every fifth purchase is based on friends' buying recommendations, followed by advertising and push messages.

What are the main influencers of our buying decisions...?
Influencer Share in %
Source: Rundschau für den Lebensmittelhandel – May 2016 / EEC
Friends, colleagues 18.7
Advertising/push messages 17.8
Other external impulse 12.8
Buying recommendation of online stores 12.3
Customer reviews 11.9
Social media 8.6
TV/radio documentary, press article 6.7
Editorial of online store 5.7
Other 5.7

Clean, clear, connected and imperfect: Ingredion's food trend predictions for the world - By Niamh Michail, 13-June-2016

What will food look like in 2020? Clean and clearly-labelled but also 'imperfect' to seem more authentic and closely connected to technology, according to a recent report by Ingredion. The ingredients supplier brought together industry insiders such as regulatory consultants and food futurologists to contribute to its report '2020: The Future of Simple, Natural and Clean Label Food'.

Perfecting the imperfect

One of the emerging trends highlighted in the report is a growing desire for imperfect products. Fuelled by consumer weariness with carbon copy products - especially among Millennials - industrial food companies will be under less pressure to make uniformly perfect products. Manufacturers will need to adapt and change their processes if they are to meet this demand, Charlotte Commarmond, marketing director at Ingredion Europe told FoodNavigator. "Cookie dough, for example, could be cut like a jigsaw in order to provide variability instead of by a cutter that would cut the cookies to a standard shape. This would lead to more 'home style' cookies, and may even reduce waste. Manufacturers may also need to change formulations to create non-homogenous batches, whilst still keeping the overall flavour and content of the product," she said. The desire for home-made style food that is also natural and fresh will fuel a rise in demand for frozen food. "The perception of frozen food as the next best thing to making it from scratch, will contribute to a rapid growth in this area," said Jennifer Haggard, consumer benefit platform manager at Givaudan and report contributor. After frozen comes refrigerated food and followed by on-shelf, offering "significant scope" for food manufacturers.

Scent branding

Ingredion also predicts that companies will increasingly use scent as a way to market food and connect with consumers. "Manufacturers that consider the whole sensory experience during product development are most likely to benefit from repeat purchases," said Commarmond. This is already being done successfully by some companies. "McCain is one company that has already trialled olfactive branding for food with a launch campaign for a new jacket potato. 3D six sheet adverts featuring a heated potato image were posted at bus stops across the UK which released the smell of baked potatoes at the press of a button."

Click for clean label

"There will be significant simplification of labels over the next four years as consumers are overwhelmed by the current volume of information used to communicate the product story on labels," says the report. This prediction was also confirmed by market research company Euromonitor in a recent webinar on clean label trends. Analysts John Madden and John George said that in the future, consumers will seek clean labels with clear and precise information about ingredients and sourcing.

This means more front-of-pack information but at the same time labels should be "simpler and less busy". It pointed to Eat Natural as an example of a company already doing this through front-of-pack ingredients messages on its toasted muesli and buckwheat cereal bars. The product pack reads: "A gluten free blend of toasted buckwheat and crisped rice with mixed seeds, dried fruit, coconut and a pinch of cinnamon and nothing dodgy." Another way of ensuring consumers get the information they seek without cluttering labels will be through technology, such as by scanning labels or clicking to view more detailed product information if shopping online. According to Rhodri Evans, head of food safety and regulatory affairs Europe at research company Exponent International who participated in the Ingredion report: "The shift in technology will have more influence on changing labelling than any regulation."

Copyright © 2000/2012 William Reed Business Media. Reprinted with the permission of This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization.

Fish and Seafood

Germany: Frozen fish in troubled waters

Frozen fish is under pressure: Turnover is stagnating, other segments are selling better and competition from the refrigerated section is strong.

Fish or meat? This is not a question to ask the Germans as they are reluctant fish eaters: Per-capita consumption was only 14 kg in 2014, well below the worldwide average of 20 kg, reported the Fish Information Centre.

This lack of appetite for fish is also reflected in the development of the market: According to the market research institute Information Resources Inc (IRI), the turnover of frozen fish and seafood dropped by 0.9% to €1.1 billion, while sales declined by 3.8% down to 158,000 tons. At the same time, the average price per kg rose from €6.78 in 2014 to €6.99 in 2015, but this could only marginally compensate the losses in this category. IRI market researchers consider poor incremental sales, i.e. turnover and sales generated by promotions, as the main reason for this negative trend. Incremental turnover declined by 11%, while incremental sales dropped by 11.6%. "The frozen food industry continuously faces the challenge of increasing the purchase frequency of frozen fish, especially established products, through attractive product presentation in the food retail trade," says Philipp Kluck, Marketing Manager with Iglo Germany.

Growing number of products in the chilled food section

The number of chilled products increased by 7.1% last year. "A reduction of the product range is not expected," forecasts IRI; quite the contrary in fact. The fish company Deutsche See is able to benefit from the trend towards chilled foods: It has expanded its market share both in the frozen fish and the self-service fresh fish segments, according to Hubertus von Wedel, Marketing Manager with Deutsche See. But which categories still offer potential in the frozen fish segment? The company Frosta, for example, is following a strategy to highlight the distinguishing features of its brand, such as the absence of additives or environmental protection. They use trays made of paper instead of aluminum foil for their fish meals and declare the origin of all ingredients, as transparency becomes increasingly important.

Top Ten Fish Species in Germany in 2014
Rank Species Market share in %
Source: Fisch-Informationszentrum, 2014
1 Alaska Pollack 22.9%
2 Salmon 18.7%
3 Herring 14.5%
4 Tuna/Bonito 12.5%
5 Trout 5.5%
6 Cod 4.4%
7 Pangasius 2.8%
8 Mackerel 2.1%
9 Saithe 1.8%
10 Redfish 1.4%
Others 13.4%

With the launch of 'Followfish', Jürg Knoll, General Manager of Followfood, has chosen a very unique approach: Every consumer can trace the purchased product back to where it came from using the tracking code.

Source: Rundschau für den Lebensmittelhandel 4/2016

State of Germany's fish industry

Although fish and seafood products have a positive image in Germany and are generally perceived as contributing towards a healthy diet per capita consumption has for years remained about a quarter behind the global average. One reason for this is the concern that many consumers have with regard to overfishing of the seas or unsustainable aquaculture methods. Internet portals are now to enlighten the public by providing objective information which could dispel such prejudices.

According to Germany's Society for Consumer Research (Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung) German consumers spent about €3.5 billion on fishery products in 2014. Not a bad result at all but, given an average population of 80 million, sales could in fact be expected to exceed that sum. Per capita consumption of fish and seafood in Germany has for years remained persistently at a level of between 14 and 15 kilograms which is an unsatisfactory result for a highly developed and prosperous industrial nation. The reasons for the relatively low demand for seafood are numerous and varied. On the one hand most consumers are aware that fish is one of the most valuable foods we have and thus an important part of a healthy diet.

On the other hand the tradition of eating fish is not very deeply rooted in much of the country – it is mainly served on special occasions and at holidays such as Easter, Christmas or New Year. And that is also why the general level of knowledge about certain fish species and products, as well as their origin and preparation, is rather limited.

Germany's fish industry is dependent on imports

Germany's fish processing industry has adjusted to this situation and offers a range of mainly frozen ready meals that are also exported. Exports account for nearly one quarter of sales. More than 85% of German fish demand is satisfied by imports. The country's own fishing capacity has shrunk steadily over the years and in 2014 there were only 7 German fishing and processing vessels in operation in the deep sea. The fleet of cutter and coastal fishing vessels comprises 1,485 vessels, and 1,139 of them measure under 12 metres. With that, German fishing vessels account for only three per cent of the EU fishing fleet.

The overwhelming dominance of imported fish products is also reflected in the preferred presentation forms in the retail sector. Frozen products continue to be well to the top of consumer favourites and in 2014 they accounted for nearly one third (30%) of sales. They were followed by canned products and marinades (26%), crustaceans and molluscs (14%) and smoked products (12%). Although fresh fish has only a relatively low market share of 9% this sector is very dynamic. Discounters, in particular, have contributed to this development since they took fresh fish products (kitchen-ready whole fishes, fillets and portions) packed in modified atmosphere (MAP) into their range.

Salmon fillet is particularly popular, with sales volume rising almost tenfold between 2012 and 2015, but also cod, pollock, plaice, trout and dorade. And indeed, discounters play a central role in fish sales today, for 49% of total fish product sales in Germany are sold via this sales channel. Supermarkets account for nearly 37% and fishmongers for only 6%.

Alaska pollock ranks first among the five most popular fish species with a market share of 22.9% in 2014, ahead of salmon (18.7%), herring (14.5%), tuna species (12.5%) and trout (5.5%). One of the major problems facing the German fish industry when it comes to marketing their products is the deep mistrust that many consumers have towards fishing and aquaculture. In spite of the growing flood of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) products on the market (in Germany alone over 4,200 products with the MSC label are available at the retailer's) a lot of people are not convinced that the fishing sector is operated sustainably. And they think that aquaculture destroys the environment, pays little attention to animal welfare, and uses drugs and chemicals to combat diseases. Negative examples of salmon that have been treated with antibiotics, mangroves that have been destroyed by shrimp farms, or pangasius that have been farmed in heavily polluted ponds persist in the minds of consumers who are generally willing to believe unsubstantiated rumours and suspicions.

The repeated allegations of some environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and a large number of negative reports in magazines and on television make no small contribution to these concerns. Of the 115 fish and crustacean species that are listed in the new Greenpeace shoppers guide only carp fully complied with the dubious criteria. Such recommendations are supposed to help consumers to choose and eat only fish species that are farmed in an acceptable manner or are not threatened by overfishing.

Websites with detailed information on fish stocks and aquaculture

The industry, researchers and the German public now have three reliable information portals at hand to confront the countless speculations, unproven assertions and rumours that abound in this important sector:

  1. – a portal managed by the Fish Information Center (in German only) (Fisch-Informationszentrum), founded by fish companies and associations back in 1997.
  2. Fischbestände online ( in German only) ( – a Website collecting information on the stock situation and commercially fished marine stocks
  3. Aquakulturinfo ( in German onl) ( – a source of information on the various aspects of aquaculture,, technology, farmed species, feeds, reproduction, genetics and animal welfare

All of the portals are currently only available in German.

Source: Eurofish Magazine 3/2016

Europeans are eating more fish, mostly thanks to one species

Europeans eat a lot of seafood, and with a recent surge in its popularity and availability, cod is once again the continent's fish of choice.

In terms of value, the European Union (EU) is the world's largest trader of fishery and aquaculture products in the world, with last year's commerce flow amounting to €49.3 billion (US 56.3 billion), up from €45.9 billion (US 52.4 billion) in 2014. While the money involved increased significantly, the volume traded remained the same at 13.8 million metric tons (MT). These totals comprise EU imports, exports and intra-EU trades.

Meanwhile, EU seafood consumption has reversed a recent declining trend, increasing by 3.6% to 24.7 kg per capita and is expected to continue on this trajectory this year. Household expenditure is now in excess of €55 million (US 62.8 million) – the highest level on record. "Compared with a lot of continents, the EU is eating a lot of whitefish; the ratios in Asia, Africa and South America are much more balanced between species," said Xavier Guillou from the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA). "But because of its policies and commitment to sustainable fishing, we cannot sustain all of our needs with our own production, so we are importing a lot of our whitefish."

EUMOFA estimates that if the EU were to eat all the seafood it produced, less than 45% of its need would be covered. This has been the case since the early 2000s and has been the result of declining whitefish fishery production in EU waters.

In 2013, cod again became the most consumed species in the EU, mostly due to an 18% increase in imports, said Guillou. "What we have seen in recent months is that cod is becoming even more important than before," he said. "The reason is basically down to supply – there is much more cod available, not just in the EU but everywhere. The biggest stocks are being more productive and cod is being landed in bigger quantities, making it more accessible. "Most of the increased fish consumption in the EU comes through the additional consumption of cod," Guillou said. "For most of the rest of the species – the volume consumption is stable."

Guillou said the strong demand for cod, as well as the high price of farmed salmon, have contributed to Norway firmly establishing itself as the leading supplier of seafood to the EU. In fact, Norway's exports (all products) to the EU has increased by more than 70% since 2009, and the overall trade is now valued at €5.3 billion (US 6.1 billion) annually. "The growth of imports from Norway is quite impressive, in volume and value, increasing by five to 10% year-on-year for many years. It's been successful getting into the big markets of France, Italy and Spain as well as the emerging markets in central Europe." he said.

By comparison, China is the bloc's second-biggest seafood supplier, with exports totaling €1.5 billion (US 1.7 billion) annually, mainly thanks to its role as a raw material processor, particularly whitefish. Next is Iceland, another major whitefish supplier, with exports to the EU of €1.1 billion (US 1.3 billion), followed by Ecuador and Vietnam with €1 billion (US 1.1 billion) each, mainly due to their respective shrimp trades.

While seafood exports from the EU have increased, amounting to €4 billion (US 4.6 billion) last year, the bloc's dependence on external seafood supplies becomes greater each year, said Guillou.

According to EUMOFA, the trade balance deficit (exports minus imports) consistently reaches a new record level every year. For 2015, it increased by seven%, or €1 billion, to €18 billion (US 20.6 billion), which was mainly attributed to increased imports of frozen products over the 12-month period. In value terms, EU imports of fish are now more than four times higher than all its meat imports combined, despite the latter reaching a 10-year high of €4.2 billion (US 4.8 billion) last year. "To put that into some perspective, we import much more fish from Norway than we import meat from the rest of the world," said Guillou.

Source:, by Jason Holland, May 09, 2016

New European Market Advisory Council officially launched

A new advisory group that includes seafood primary producers, representatives from industry and trade and environmental and consumer organizations held its first meeting as a formal body on 8 June.

The European Market Advisory Council (MAC) for fisheries and aquaculture will investigate key issues affecting the seafood sector and deliver advice on markets to the European Union, according to a press release from the European Federation of National Organizations of Importers and Exporters (AIPCE) of Fish/European Fish Processors Association (CEP). The MAC will provide its advice to the Commission and other policy-makers with the same status as the existing Advisory Councils.

In its 8 June meeting, AIPCE President Guus Pastoor was elected the first chairman of the MAC. "We called for its establishment during the negotiations for adoption of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) Regulation back in May 2013 and we have been working intensively in the preparation phase since then," Pastoor said. "We are pleased that decisions taken at the first General Assembly will enable the MAC to start and this should reflect the reality of the whole chain of fishery and aquaculture products whilst preserving a balance of interests".

The council's initial work will focus on policy implementation and delivery of the Common Market Organization, supply, regulatory and consumer affairs and seek to strengthen the implementation of the EU Common Fisheries Policy.

"The primary purpose of the MAC is to look at market and consumer issues across the value chain and across all 28 member states," Pastoor said. "All component parts of the industry have a role to play in this and the contribution of EU fish processors and traders to the process will be ensured through the executive committee and working groups where AIPCE-CEP delegates have been elected for relevant positions. In this context, we are committed to provide expertise from our industry to the benefit of all interested parties involved."

Source:, by Cliff White, published on Friday, June 10, 2016

Belgium: EU Website European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA) relaunched in 24 languages

EUMOFA, the European market observatory for fisheries and aquaculture products, is a market intelligence service of the European Union on fishery and aquaculture. The service provides data and analyses on the EU market to increase market transparency and efficiency and to support business decisions and policy making. The data is gathered from official sources in each of the European Union countries (plus Norway and Iceland) and aligned to a common standard to ensure that it is comparable. Currently the data is harmonised into 97 main commercial species and 12 commodity groups. In addition to making the raw data available, EUMOFA provides predigested analysis in the form of monthly and annual reports.

The Monthly Highlights report facts and EU market trends broken down by supply chain stages, while an annual structure analysis "The EU fish market", provides a comprehensive view of the fisheries and aquaculture industries in the EU in comparison with other food industries. To facilitate its use the website ( has now been relaunched in all the 24 EU languages. Users can download data on production and trade using a variety of fi litres to customise the query to their own specifications. EUMOFA is a useful tool for policy-makers, researchers, NGO's, private industry and others interested in data on European fisheries and aquaculture.

Source: Eurofish Magazine 1/2016

EU and Norway cut prawn quota

Norway and the European Union have agreed to cut quotas by ten per cent in an area off the southern Norwegian coast. The move has been made following new information on the state of stocks and is unusual almost halfway through the fishing season. Norway's fisheries minister Per Sandberg said: 'I fully understand that it creates problems for fishermen when quotas are changed mid-season. 'It is regrettable that we have come to such a situation, but this was the only reasonable solution after we received this new advice. This adjustment will ensure continued profitable and sustainable fishing.' The adjustment applies to shrimp or prawn quotas in the North Sea and Skagerrak administered by Norway together with the EU. The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) has recently adjusted its advice for catches of prawns this year.

In October last year ICES recommended that catches for 2016 should not exceed 21,500 tonnes. Later, Norway and the EU agreed on a total quota for 2016 at 17,440 tons. However, in March ICES amended these earlier quotas and came up with a new figure which recommended that the total allowable catch for this year should not exceed 13,721 tons, or 11,869 tons, if the fishing effort for shrimp or prawns is not reduced significantly. Norway says the new figures 'are the result of a methodology review of the prawn stock' in January this year and is based on a new model that has been under development for some years.

Even with the reduction, this year's quota is significantly higher than the previous year. Between 2015 and 2016, the quota increased from 10,900 tons to 15,696 tons.

Source:, posted on June 7, 2016 by Jenny Hjul

Spanish fish consumption down by 13.5% in 5 years

Fish and seafood consumption in Spanish households dropped from 29.9 kg to 25.86 kg over the last 6 years, reported the daily paper ABC, referring to figures of the Confederation Espanola de Pesca (Cepesca). Reasons for this development would be the economic situation of the country as well as consumer habits, says IntraFish. Spain only recently increased the value added tax (VAT) on fish/seafood products from 8 to 10%. Families are also spending less time on the preparation of meals, and are thus buying less fish in the first place.

Source: FischMagazin 3/2016

United Kingdom (UK): More retail choices mean savvy consumers are here to stay

The fierce competition between the leading retailers in the United Kingdom has completely changed the landscape for grocery sales, with consumers hooked on a diet of discounts. And yet, provisional data from the UK Seafish Authority suggests there's much more to growing market share in the seafood sector than a competitive pricing strategy.

According to Seafish figures, retail sales of seafood for in-home consumption totaled GBP 3.1 billion (€4 billion) last year, which represented a drop of 0.6%. In volume terms, these sales equated to 331,151 metric tons (MT) of products or 1.2 million unit sales, down 0.9% and 1.3%, respectively. But they also highlight that the supermarket price war, with like-for-like grocery prices falling every month since September 2014, still hasn't permeated the chilled seafood category. Indeed, chilled seafood sales grew in value by 1.1% to almost GBP 2 billion (€2.6 billion) in 2015, with consumers buying more of these products and paying more for them than they were a year ago.

By comparison, the value of the frozen seafood category fell by 1% to GBP 689.7 million (€ 896.1 million) and ambient seafood sales declined by 7.1% to GBP 454.8 million (€590.9 million) last year.

Seafood sales through the main shopping channels also continued to shift last year. Tesco, the country's biggest retailer, accounted for 22.5% of total seafood retail, but its market share declined by 4.9%. Sainsbury's and Morrison – in second and third place, respectively – also saw their market shares fall to 15.8% and 11.1%, respectively.

While gains were made by some of the higher-end retailers, the discounters Aldi and Lidl made the most dramatic increases. Seafish's data finds that Aldi, now the country's sixth-largest supermarket chain, increased its share of total seafood sales by 22.2%, giving it a record 7.2% of the market. At the same time, Lidl increased its seafood sales by 35.6% to secure 5.5% of the market, making it the country's fastest-growing seafood retailer. While attractive pricing is very important, seafood retailers need to address the long-term decline in store loyalty, said Julia Brooks, market insight analyst at Seafish.

Store experience, ranges and choice now differentiate a retailer, and not the lowest price, she said. "It's about the right product, the right price and the right format in the right store for 'individual' consumers. At the same time, provenance, health and wellbeing have become much more important to shoppers and should be seen as a growth opportunity for the industry," Brooks said.

The small decline in retail sales of seafood was offset by a 1% increase in out-of-home consumption, which exceeded GBP 3.2 billion (€4.2 billion) last year. But while the number of seafood servings increased by 3.8% to 993.6 million, the average spending per serving declined 2.7% to GBP 3.25 (€4.22), echoing the overriding consumer trend of seeking value for money.

The biggest gains in this sector were in the quick service restaurants (excluding fish and chips), which increased its seafood servings by 10.8%, and in work and school cafeterias, which grew 10.2% on the previous year. The fish and chip trade, meanwhile, saw its seafood servings drop 0.6% in 2015. With regard to these findings, Brooks said the increased variety in UK foodservice meant there was much less consumer loyalty. Furthermore, customers increasingly want "super-convenience;" they don't want to waste time standing in queues for their meal.

Looking forward, operators must build "human customer relationships," and give consumers new reasons to engage with brands in what is an economically recovering UK foodservice market that's awash with considerable choice, she said.

Source:, by Jason Holland, published on May 24, 2016

Meat market

German meat market in figures

Meat consumption in Germany (per capita, in kg)
Meat 2012 2013 2014 2015
Source: AMI analysis based on GfK consumer panel, Die Fleischerei 05/2016
Beef and veal 13.2 13.1 13.2 13.4
Pork 53.6 53.4 53.4 51.8
Poultry 19.0 19.4 19.5 19.7
Others 3.0 2.9 2.9 2.9
Meat consumption in the EU in 2014 (per capita, in kg)
Country Consumption
Source: AMI, BLE, BVDF, Federal Office of Statistics
Spain 111.5
Denmark 110.3
Portugal 102.0
Austria 97.8
Slovenia 96.8
Ireland 96.5
Slovakia 94.2
France 93.7
Poland 91.2
Germany 89.0
Italy 87.8
European Union 28 87.6
Netherlands 85.1
Greece 79.4
Belgium / Luxemburg 78.8
United Kingdom 77.9
Hungary 77.2
Sweden 76.5
Czech Republic 73.7

Belgian beef exports boom

For the fourth consecutive period, Belgian exporters have sold more beef abroad: 171,147 tons of beef crossed Belgium's borders in 2015, an increase of 7% compared to the previous year. The Belgian Meat Office in Brussels calculated this using Eurostat data.

Around 80% of the exports (136,982 tons) are made up of beef, while slaughter by-products account for 20% (34,164 tons). With 157,070 tons (+5.9%), the European trade partners are the most important destinations for Belgian beef: A total of 131,297 tons of beef and 25,773 tons of by-products were sold were sold to EU Member States.

Traditionally, the Netherlands is the most important destination for Belgian beef. Sales volumes to the Netherlands increased once more by six percent to 55,795 tons. France and Germany follow with 38,201 tons (+1%) and 27,460 tons (+9%) respectively.

There has also been strong interest in purchasing Belgian beef by third countries: They bought a total of 14,076 tons (+20.2%), a new record result. The majority of the sales to third countries were slaughter by-products with 8,391 tons (+29.9%), while beef recorded growth of 8.4% to 5,685 tons. Ghana now ranks first with 5,060 tons (+72%) followed by Ivory Coast with 4,106 tons (-10%).

Source: Die Fleischerei 7-8/2016

Organic market

German organic food market to cross €15 billion by 2021

Sales of organic food in Germany are being driven by rising disposable incomes, combined with an increasing awareness of the health benefits of organic food, reports Fresh Plaza. This is according to a research report by TechSci, "Germany Organic Food Market By Type, Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 - 2021".

Germany's average annual household net-adjusted disposable income per capita was US$31,925 in 2015, which was more than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of US$29,016 in the same year. Changing lifestyles and consumer preferences, increasing number of women joining the workforce and government initiatives to promote organic farming and organic food consumption in the country are further projected to drive demand for organic food in the country in the coming years. Being a major developed economy in Europe, Germany is one of the largest markets for organic food in the region.

The organic food market in Germany is above all dominated by organic fruit & vegetable products as well as organic meat;, poultry & dairy products and these two segments together account for a revenue share of around 52% in Germany in 2015, according to Market Watch.

The German organic food market is quite fragmented with presence of various small players. Hipp GmbH & Co Vertrieb KG, Alnatura Produktions- und Handels GmbH, Rewe Markt GmbH, Aldi Einkauf GmbH &Co oHG are according to the report a few of the major organic food companies operating in Germany and are anticipated to continue dominating the market through 2021.

Southwest region dominated the German organic food market due to large population size, and proximity to major European countries such as Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Southeast region, with a population of over 19 million people in different states such as Bavaria, Thuringia and Saxony, is the second largest regional market for organic food in Germany.

Source:, article published on June 15, 2016

Share of imports of selected organic products in Germany

Product 2014/2015 2013/2014
Source: AMI
Soybeans 94% 94%
Feed peas 61% 70%
Rice 46% 51%
Carrots 46% 45%
Butter 42% 51%
Milk (pasteurized) 37% 21%
Wheat 34% 24%
Apples 31% 49%
Pork meat 28% 24%
Potatoes 24% 39%
Yogurt 24% 18%
Total grains 27% 17%
Eggs 6% 8%

Denmark launches Europe's first organic food business group

The Food and Agriculture Ministry is launching Europe's first organic food business group to assist the Danish government in boosting the sector, according to the Copenhagen Post Online. Already now, the Danes are the most pro-organic consumers in the world. Denmark is still the nation in the world that has the highest share of sold organic food products, according to new figures from national statistics keeper Danmarks Statistik.

The Danish Agriculture and Food Council is convinced the Danish market has the potential to reach a target of 300,000 hectares of organic farming area by 2020. Nevertheless the food and environment minister, Esben Lunde Larsen, believes there is more untapped potential in the organic market.

"I think the organic market holds even greater potential, especially in those areas of Denmark where more growth and jobs are particularly needed," Larsen stated. "The organic business group can help us refine the framework for the market conditions, so that unnecessary rules and a lack of co-operation across the organic sector do not stand in the way of further development."

The business group consists of representatives from companies such as Arla, Thise, Coop, Hørkram, Netto, Meyer's Canteens and the Food & Agriculture organization. Their recommendations are expected to be presented in the spring next year.

Source:, article published on June 9, 2016

French organic food sales up record amount

France's organic food sales rose by a record amount in 2015, hitting €5.8 billion ($6.4 billion), up 15% from 2014, France's organic food group Agence Bio said on Wednesday the 25th of May, explained the Daily Mail Online.

Organic foods were still mainly sold in supermarkets which had a market share of 45% but sales in specialised shops and direct sales from producers rose sharply last year, up 17 and 20% respectively, Agence Bio said in a statement. Purchases by the mass catering sector rose 18% but still only accounted for a small share of total sales.

Nearly 1.4 million hectares were cultivated with organic crops, up 23% on the year, with organic agriculture now accounting for 5% of all French farmland, it said. More than 200 farms in France, the European Union's largest agriculture economy, turned to organic production every month last year, it added.

Source:, June 3, 2016

Project to make true cost of [organic] food visible to UK consumers

A pioneering project launched by retailer Whole Foods Market together with organic fresh produce firm Nature & More is aiming to make the true costs of fruits and vegetables visible to UK consumers on the shop floor for the first time, according to Fresh Plaza. Nature & More argues that much of the fruits and vegetables currently available in the UK are sold far too cheaply and conceal negative environmental and social impacts. Consulting firms write hefty social impact reports for companies, but the actual hidden costs at product level are not shared with consumers (we reported earlier).

Beginning in May, pears, pineapples, oranges and lemons in supermarkets across Europe are for the first time displaying information cards that show the true price of food. In the UK, these cards are being included with organic Nature & More pears at Whole Foods. The cards, which as well as the UK are being featured in stores in Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands, show a flower whose six petals illustrate the monetary costs to the climate, water, soil, biodiversity, social cohesion and health of conventional fruits and vegetables.

In 2014, the United Nations's Food and Agriculture Organisation developed a method to calculate the hidden costs of food production. Results from the investigation were included in a table from which the costs of water use, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, among other factors, could be calculated.

Using this method, Nature & More has calculated that the hidden climate change-linked costs of an acre of non-organic pears in Argentina amounted to £987 per year. The hidden costs related to water pollution and soil erosion were estimated at £236 and £365 per acre respectively.

Source:, 01.07.2016 by Editor


More space for veggie products on German retail shelves

Retailers are giving vegetarian and vegan products far more shelf space. The number of products, both in the private label and brand segments, has increased significantly. Discounters are progressing twice as fast in their race to catch up with the regular retail trade. With an increase of 70% last year, the growth of their vegetarian and vegan segment was twice as high as for full-range supermarkets.

Last year, the food retail trade and drugstores sold vegetarian and vegan products worth €552 million, representing an increase of 42% over the previous year. Consumers find vegetarian products in numerous product segments, ranging from plant and milk-based spreads to processed foods (including tofu), schnitzel, frozen ready meals, frozen pizza and wet meals, and from raw 'sausages' to milk-based desserts. Most of the growth was generated in vegan milk and milk-based foods as well as vegetarian and vegan meat substitute products. Both product groups together accounted for 67% of the total turnover with vegetarian products in the food retail and drugstore business.

All distribution channels benefitted from the dynamic development of this segment, fuelled by ongoing product line expansions in the retail trade. Full-range supermarkets remain the leading distribution channel for vegetarian products: Almost every second euro spent on vegetarian products is spent in such retail outlets. But discounters are also clearing shelf space for vegetarian and vegan products, with the number of private labels and brand names in this segment increasing markedly. As a result, discounters are catching up quickly, achieving growth rates of 70%, twice the figure for full-range supermarkets. This development is also reflected in the market shares: Full-range supermarkets and drugstores lost market share to the discount trade, which gained another 5% and now accounts for almost 28% of the total turnover achieved with vegetarian and vegan products.

Sales development of main 'veggie' product segments (figures in EUR million)
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Source of data: IFH Cologne, Lebensmittel Zeitung
'veggie' product segments: vegetarian and vegan meat and dairy substitutes, breakfast segment with plant-based spreads, cereals and muesli
Turnover 224 256 301 361 454
year-over-year change in % 7.7 17.3 17.6 19.9 25.9

Source: Lebensmittel Zeitung No. 16, April 22, 2016

High demand for vegetarian ready-meals in Germany

Frozen veggie meals are increasingly popular in Germany. A study by market researchers Mintel revealed that 12% of the ready-meals launched last year were vegetarian, compared to only 2% in 2011. Although only 7% of adults in Germany claim to lead a vegetarian lifestyle, one third claims to reduce their consumption of red meat, with 19% saying they consume more vegetarian products. The Mintel study further shows that the development is driven by health conscious millennials.

Source: Lebensmittel Zeitung No. 15, April 15, 2016

Growing number of flexitarians in Germany

Importance of a vegetarian diet in German households
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Indifferent households 76% 75% 72% 68% 67% 62%
Flexitarians 21% 22% 24% 28% 29% 34%
Vegetarians 3% 4% 4% 4% 4% 4%

Confectionery market

Chocolate eaters around the world value psychological benefits of the treat

As Easter 2016 was celebrated, many consumers feasted on chocolate to mark the occasion. But despite the emphasis on the unhealthiness of chocolate confectionery, it seems consumers are turning to the treat as a result of its emotional benefits. Indeed, new research from Mintel reveals that over one third (38%) of chocolate eaters in the UK say that the emotional benefits of chocolate outweigh any health concerns. 24% of Brits say that they have bought chocolate confectionery in the last three months to boost their mood, whilst 16% have purchased the treat to get an energy boost.

Additionally, other European consumers value the psychological merits of the treat. Half (49%) of Polish chocolate eaters say they eat chocolate to lift their mood, followed by 40% in Italy, 39% in Germany, 27% in Spain and 15% in France. What's more, 41% of German chocolate eaters say they eat the treat because it relaxes them, followed by 37% in France, 28% in Italy, 27% in Spain and 23% in Poland.

Mintel research indicates that, perhaps as a result of its emotional health benefits, a number of consumers across Europe believe chocolate to be beneficial. One quarter (26%) o Spanish chocolate eaters agree that chocolate is healthy, followed by 21% in Poland, 20% in France and 19% in Italy. However, it seems German consumers are more sceptical, as just 9% agree that chocolate is healthy.

And whilst European consumers express beliefs in eating chocolate as an emotional remedy, it comes as no surprise perhaps that the majority of the world's biggest chocolate eaters are in Europe. Whilst Switzerland tops the leaderboard, with each Swiss consumer estimated to have eaten 8.8 kg of chocolate in 2015, this is followed by Germany (8.4 kg per capita), Russia (7.3 kg), the UK (6.8 kg), Austria (5.5 kg), and the US (5.5 kg). In comparison, consumers in China are estimated to have eaten just 0.2 kg each in 2015.

Across the pond in the US 29% of chocolate candy eaters say that they eat the treat to improve their mood. And in China, where volume sales increased 6% between 2014 and 2015, 76% of consumers that eat chocolate agree that eating the treat is good for lifting the mood and 64% agree that eating chocolate is an effective way to relieve stress.

The number of premium chocolate products launched globally was up to 72% between 2011 and 2015.

Mintel research shows that there is more 'better quality' chocolate on offer than ever before. Between 2011 and 2015, there was a 72% increase in the number of premium chocolate products launched globally, with 7% of chocolate products launched in 2015 carrying a premium claim, up from just 5% in 2011. It seems that this growth in launch activity follows strong consumer demand for quality chocolate. Approaching one quarter (22%) of chocolate eaters in France say that a product containing premium ingredients is an important factor when buying chocolate, followed by 21% in Italy, 17% in Spain, 11% in Germany and 9% in Poland. 25% of chocolate buyers in the UK say they would be willing to pay more for a luxury brand of chocolate for themselves, whilst 44% would be willing to pay more when buying as a gift.

What's more, Mintel research reveals that European taste buds have a craving for dark chocolate. In 2015, 48% of Italian chocolate eaters said they looked for dark chocolate when buying the treat, up from 36% in 2012, with the same trend seen in France (48% in 2015 vs. 39% in 2012), Germany (30% in 2015 vs. 24% in 2012) and Spain (40% in 2014 vs. 36% in 2012).

It seems, chocolate eaters around the world are looking for more innovative flavours, and the industry is responding. Between 2011 and 2015 there was a 140% increase in the number of chocolate products launched globally flavoured with matcha tea. In the same time period, there was a 270% increase in the number of chocolate confectionery products launched with a salt, or salted flavour. Today, 44% of chocolate buyers in the UK say they're prompted to buy chocolate when they see new flavours in-store, whilst 21% of chocolate candy buyers in the US say they usually buy new types of the treat when they see them.

Per capita consumption of chocolate confectionery (in kg, 2015)
Country Consumption
Source: Mintel
Switzerland 8.8
Germany 8.4
Russia 7.3
United Kingdom 6.8
United States 5.5
Austria 5.5
Poland (Estimated) 5.0
France (Estimated) 4.0
China 0.2

Source: Sweets Global Network 5/2016

A contrasted year 2015 for the Swiss chocolate industry

For the second year in a row, less chocolate was sold in Switzerland in 2015 compared to the previous year, with more and more consumers also turning to imported products. On the whole, however, the Swiss chocolate industry still managed to hold firm in a difficult environment, although the all-important export business is increasingly being impeded by the federal government.

In 2015, Switzerland's 18 chocolate manufacturers achieved a patchy result overall. The sales volume declined to 181,414 tons (-1.3%), with clear drops recorded both on the domestic market and major export markets. It was only thanks to a few growth markets in the export business that this decline could be contained, and the sector turnover maintained slightly above the previous year at CHF 1.474 billion (+0.7%).

Export business thus had a stabilising effect in a difficult environment. This was made possible by framework conditions which facilitated compensation in export business for the raw-material cost disadvantage caused by agropolitical issues. The end of the "Schoggigesetz" act, coupled with maintenance of agricultural border protection, means these framework conditions are, however, in jeopardy.

The total domestic sales by Swiss manufacturers declined by 5.9% compared to 2014, with domestic sales of semi-finished products (-5.8%) and finished products (-5.9%) both decreasing. The hot summer, drop in foreign tourist numbers, and increase in shopping tourism just over the border are believed to have contributed to this poor result. Per-capita chocolate consumption in Switzerland declined by 0.6 kg to 11.1 kg. The strong Swiss franc caused a price reduction in imports, and an increase from 37.2% to 38.7% in the amount of imported chocolate making up domestic consumption. Domestic turnover decreased by 0.9% overall.

Turnover decreased in most major export markets in 2015. Thanks to export the growth in some markets, however, export business still recorded an increase overall. In Europe, it was primarily Belgium and the Netherlands which grew, while Italy and Austria registered the biggest declines in terms of quantity and turnover. The biggest markets outside Europe to record significant growth rates were Australia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Japan, while the greatest losses were noted in China (-30%), the Philippines (-28%) and Russia (-26%). On balance, export sales totalled 117,031 tons (+1.4%), with a resulting turnover of CHF 843 million (+2.5%).

Source: Sweets Global Network 4/2016

Frozen Foods

German frozen food sales in 2015
Food retail trade
2015 (in tons)
Food retail trade
change versus 2014
Out-of-home market
2015 (in tons)
Out-of-home market
change versus 2014
Total market
2015 (in tons)
Total market
change versus 2014
Soure: German Frozen Food Institute (Deutsches Tiefkühlinstitut)
Total frozen food sales 1,786,779 +2.7% 1,755,341 +4.7% 3,542,121 +3.7%
To cook at home - Total 879,900 +2.2% 728,702 +2.5% 1,662,602 +2.3%
vegetables 281,951 +1.6% 213,080 +1.2% 495,031 +1.4%
fish 212,625 +2.9% 91,165 +4.1% 303,790 +3.2%
potatoes 217,139 +4.0% 208,513 +2.0% 425,652 +3.5%
meat 162,681 +0.3% 260,004 +2.4% 422,685 +1.6%
side dishes (grain and flour products) 5,503 +1.3% 9,941 +3.6% 15,444 +2.8%
Ready to eat / prepare - Total 664,820 +3.2% 340,844 +6.3% 1,005,664 +4.3%
ready meals 314,257 +1.7% 132,414 +5.2% 446,672 +2.7%
pizza 294,262 +4.6% 24,785 +20.3% 319,047 +5.7%
snacks (including cheese) 56,301 +5.1% 183,646 +5.5% 239,946 +5.4%
Breakfast and desserts - Total 242,059 +3.2% 631,795 +6.7% 873,854 +5.7%
bakery products 211,661 +2.0% 580,105 +7.1% 791,766 +5.7%
fruits (including juices) 25,400 +15.1% 46,017 +2.5% 71,417 +6.7%
dairy products, desserts 4,998 +3.0% 5,673 +2.7% 10,671 +2.8%
Frozen food consumption in Germany
2014 2015
Soure: German Frozen Food Institute (Deutsches Tiefkühlinstitut)
Per capita 42.2 kg 43.6 kg
Per household 87.3 kg 90.0 kg

Fruit and Vegetables

Worldwide berry production on the rise

The global production of strawberries and bush berries continues to grow unabated, with strawberry production increasing by about 15% (1 million tons) in the past five years. The amount of land devoted to the cultivation of blueberries worldwide rose sharply by 50% in the same period, while the production of raspberries increased only marginally by a few percent. While cultivation for processing purposes slightly declined, larger berry crops for the fresh market compensated for this decrease. These are the most recent figures from AMI, the organization that provides information on the Agri-food market.

By far the most important berry market in Europe is the UK, which is otherwise not too well known for its high consumption of fruits. Consumer spending on berries in the UK was €1.35 billion last year. Germany is the second most important market, where consumers spent €930 million, followed by France, Italy and Spain. All markets recorded an increase in consumer spending, often fuelled by growing imports in the off-season. This is particularly true for imports of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries into Germany. Strawberry imports, however, recorded only marginal increases.

While the majority of the strawberries imported into the EU were supplied by Mediterranean countries, off-season imports of bush berries came from South America, Mexico and South Africa, with more produce being supplied by Morocco and Spain later in the year.

Source:, April 13, 2016


Water's flowing in Germany

The heat last summer fuelled the demand for water and other cold drinks. The food retail trade, drugstores and beverage stores achieved an increase in turnover of 2% up to €12.209 billion.

Mineral waters were particularly successful, with 290 million litres more being sold than in 2014 (+2.2%). The trend towards non-carbonated waters was, once again, boosting sales, as were energy drinks, which recorded double-digit growth rates. In terms of revenue, energy drinks rank fifth on the list of the top non-alcoholic drink segments, leaving spritzers behind, even if the latter have larger sales volumes.

In the non-alcoholic drinks market, growth in niche products is interesting to observe, at the same time creating quality and added value both in the soft drink segment as well as in tea and tea-based beverages.

This is also reflected in the development of the distribution channels. As in the previous year, full-range supermarkets are the undisputed winners, fuelled by a strong increase in promotional activities. While discounters remain the No. 1 distribution channel, they cannot keep up with the growth rates of full-range supermarkets. Cash-and-carry beverage stores remain an important distribution channel for regional premium lines.

Strong growth impetus in the soft drink segment has been generated by a large number of product launches where manufacturers have taken account of current trends and consumer needs in new premium lines. Reduced sweetness, more naturalness and a higher fruit content. Sustainability, tradition and authenticity are other key buzzwords.

Not only are the classic soft drinks demonstrating how modern product innovation can boost the development of a segment. Another example is ice tea, where price battles and private labels created a negative image for a long time. Tea beverages now count among the few segments in the non-alcoholic beverage market that generate a strong demand throughout the year.

These developments are supported by a trend towards smaller packs. While Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles are used for premium soft drinks, tea beverages and near-water products, growth is being generated above all with small bottle formats (less than 1 litre) down to 0.2 litre bottles. Cans are recording double-digit growth rates thanks to energy drinks. In terms of volume, canned beverages have a share of more than 5% of the non-alcoholic beverage market.

Development of turnover in the food retail trade, drugstores and beverage stores (turnover in € million)
2014 2015 Change in %
Source: Nielsen / Lebensmittel Zeitung
Total non-alcoholic beverages 11,959.7 12,209.3 2.1%
Water 3,534.7 3,654.4 3.4%
Coke-style beverages 2,320.9 2,337.7 0.7%
Fruit juices 1,530.8 1,491.5 −2.6%
Soft drinks, carbonated fruit juice beverages 1,099.4 1,121.1 2.0%
Energy drinks 575.4 660.3 14.8%
Spritzers / enriched mineral waters 599.4 545.1 −9.1%
Ice tea 453.6 495.7 9.3%
Fruit nectars 436.8 443.1 1.4%
Flavoured waters 434.0 429.0 −1.1%
Non-carbonated fruit juice beverages 407.1 369.9 −9.1%
Liquid sports drinks 175.0 190.3 8.7%
Iced coffee 160.8 172.2 7.1%
Others 107.2 163.5 52.5%
Bitter drinks 124.4 135.7 9.1%

Source: Lebensmittel Zeitung No. 14, April 8, 2016

German Beer Market in Numbers

Turnover and sales in 2015
Beer variety Turnover in €1,000 Change versus 2014
Source: Rundschau für den Lebensmittelhandel 05/2016, AC Nielsen
Non-alcoholic 474,586 7.1%
Light beers 446,285 13.6%
Specialty beers (cellar, country-style, festival etc.) 370,603 7.0%
Lager 116,149 8.1%
Malt 115,628 8.2%
Turnover and sales in 2015
Beer variety Sales in thousand hectolitres Change versus 2014
Source: Rundschau für den Lebensmittelhandel 05/2016, AC Nielsen
Non-alcoholic 3,408 6.9%
Light beers 3,275 10.3%
Specialty beers (cellar, country-style, festival etc.) 2,903 4.0%
Lager 779 5.7%
Malt 1,264 7.7%

World wine production and consumption on the up

World wine production: an increase of 5.8 million hectolitres (mhl)

Global wine production (excluding juice and must) was relatively strong in 2015. It reached 274.4 mhl, equating to +5.8 mhl compared with 2014 production. With growth of 12% compared with the previous year, Italy is the biggest producer in the world (49.5 mhl), followed by France (47.5 mhl) and Spain (37.2 mhl). The United States recorded a high level of production (22.1 mhl) for the third year running. In the Southern Hemisphere, production (excluding juice & must) declined in Argentina (13.4 mhl), increased in Chile (12.9 mhl) and remained stable in Australia (11.9 mhl). Production fell slightly both in South Africa (11.2 mhl) and in China (11 mhl).

World wine consumption: a slight rise in 2015

Global wine production in 2015 is estimated at 240 mhl, corresponding to a slight growth (+0.9 mhl) compared with the previous year. It has been stable since the beginning of the 2008 economic and financial crisis. With 31 mhl, the United States confirmed its position as the biggest global consumer country. Consumption was relatively stable in Italy (20.5 mhl) and in Spain (10 mhl), yet continued to erode in France (27.2 mhl) compared with that of 2014. The level of consumption in China is estimated at 16 mhl: a slight increase of 0.5 mhl compared with 2014.

International trade: growth in terms of volume and value

In 2015, the world wine trade increased by 1.8 % in terms of volume (104.3 mhl) yet particularly in terms of value with a growth of 10.6% (€28.3 billion) compared with 2014.

Source: Press Release of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (IOV),, April 18, 2016

Another year of decline in the German spirits industry

Sales of spirits in the food retail trade dropped by 6 million bottles to 514 million bottles last year. With a turnover of €4 billion, high-proof alcohol was among the product groups generating most of the turnover, ranking among the top 10 revenue drivers in the brand segment, reported the Federal Association of the German Spirits Industry and Importers (BSI). Among the winners were gin, vodka, whiskey, liqueurs, ouzo, rum, grappa and raki. The leading segments in terms of turnover were clear spirits (37.5%), liqueurs (34%) and brandy/cognac (11.8%). 75% of the total sales (691 million bottles) were sold through the food retail trade. While the industry recorded slight increases in turnover, their exports dropped marginally last year.

The Federal Office of Statistics reported a decline in imports to 428 million bottles, 10 million fewer than the previous year. Overall, 39 percent of all spirits sold in Germany are imported, above all from Great Britain, the United States, Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Russia.

Source: Lebensmittel Zeitung No. 22, June 3, 2016

Private Labels

Private-label market in the EU: The end of budget?

Budget private-label goods were introduced by retailers hoping to stave off the growth of discounters. A report by Netherlands-based international private label consult predicts that over time, these brands will be phased out, as customers demand a better-quality offering at a low price.

As shoppers begin choosing better quality over cheaper options, and amid retailer fears that their name may become tarnished by selling poor-quality products, budget private-label products will ultimately disappear, according to Netherlands-based International Private Label Consult (IPLC), a leading authority on private-label trends. In its report, How Mainstream Retailers in Europe Respond to the Discount Retail Phenomenon, IPLC believes that the discount strategy that European retailers have undertaken has been is guided and has 'failed dramatically'.

As retailers in many EU countries will attest to, discount retailers have continued to grow their market share in Europe, despite the efforts of mainstream grocers to curb this growth. The strategy adopted by most retailers has been to try to beat them at their own game. The logic seems sound: if price is the primary driver to the discounters, create budget private-label products to give customers no reason to go to either Lidl or Aldi. That strategy, according to the report, has failed. Furthermore, it is affecting profits and might actually be harming retailers' reputations in the public eye.

Behind the Architecture

The research conducted by IPLC sought to identify the most effective strategy to counterbalance discount retailers like Aldi and Lidl by studying the 'private-label architecture' of mainstream retailers in nine EU markets. For the basis of the research, IPLC executed store checks in a mainstream retailer in line EU countries: Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Switzerland, Austria and Poland.

An average range of products in these shops were then compared to similar products in Lidl, which was chosen over Aldi, as it was represented in all the countries in the research. Four categories of product were examined: the national brand, the private-label equivalent, the respective budget-label equivalent, and, finally, the Lidl private-label equivalent of the national brand.

Price and Quality

Out of the 35 baskets of goods/products that were studied, it was discovered that the average price of the private-label equivalent was 33% lower than the national brand. At Lidl, it was 54% lower. For the budget-label equivalent, it was even lower again, averaging at 62% lower than the national brand. These price differences have remained steady over the last number of years. Some notable examples include the UK, where supermarkets have recently been engaged in an ongoing price war. At Tesco, the average price of the budget private-label equivalent is a staggering 85% lower than the national brand, while the Lidl price is 62% lower. Retailers have succeeded in providing cheaper alternatives to Lidl private-label goods, but, seemingly, have not been able to stop the discounters from cannibalising their market share.

More than Price

While retailers' budget labels are beating Lidl on the price, the difference lies in the quality of the product. Based on observations of the ingredients list and packaging of the products, the report found that while Lidl private-label products were in line with the national brand in terms of ingredients listed, the budget private-label products fell short. Fruit muesli contained 45% fruit in the national brand and 50% in the Lidl brand, but only 7%-10% in the budget brand. The findings also show that the budget private label products were made using inferior ingredients or materials, such as soft wheat flour instead of durum wheat for penne pasta and an inferior raw material for cat litter.

One of the major advances in the evolution of the supermarket private label brands has been in the area of packaging. Far from being the 'me too' products of old with basic packaging that was easily distinguishable from the national brands, private label packaging is now not only comparable, but often superior to branded goods to make them as eye-catching for shoppers. The budget labels' packaging, however, was found to be of lower quality, with basic, no frills labels and fewer features such as a lack of ring pulls on tinned products and anti-drip caps on condiments. This packaging could be acting as an indicator to shoppers of the poor quality of the item inside.

A private-label problem

Therein lies the problem for retailers, says IPLC. Threatened by the discounters' low prices, retailers have attempted to fight back by offering their own products that are cheaper still. However, whereas Lidl has offered a genuine alternative to A-brands (some products were found to be of better quality than national brands), the budget private-label brands have come up short on quality. "Mainstream retailers in Europe believed they would reduce the risk of losing shoppers by offering budget private labels," the report reads. "However, this no longer is an adequate answer. What may have been sufficient in the past is now outdated by harsh reality."

New thinking

The report examined a few instances in which retailers have changed their own brands, which reflects the changing attitudes towards private-label strategies. In 2014, Carrefour changed its Carrefour Discount brand, which was relaunched with the store-banner label removed. Analysts on the matter said that Carrefour Discount was a victim of its own success, driving customers away from other branded products, thus tightening profit margins. Customers, it was believed, thought they were getting the same product for cheaper. By removing the logo, Carrefour attempted to return customers to its classic brands.

A similar move was adopted by Dutch retailer Albert Heijn (AH), which withdrew most of its AH Basic budget private-label products from the chilled convenience sector. These were replaced with new labels that didn't refer to Albert Heijn.

Edeka's 'Gut und Günstig' brand promises the same price and quality as Aldi, taking the discounters on head-on. Its budget label matches Lidl on price according to the report, and its national brand equivalent is more expensive than the average. These value-added products are sold under the Edeka private label brand.

Jumbo Supermarkets in the Netherlands also took on a similar strategy, adding its Allerslimste Koop (Smartest Buy) label to its national brand equivalent to indicate that these products are at the same price level as Lidl, while maintaining their quality packaging and ingredients. "The last two initiatives (Edeka and Jumbo) demonstrate that retailers are taking serious action to discourage the drain-away of shoppers to discounters," says IPLC.

Thinking budget

The negative effects of inferior budget labels are now being addressed. Because private label brands generate lower margins to retailers than national brands, category profitability may be eroded by offering budget label brands. By 'trading down', i.e. shoppers choosing budget label, retailers were losing out on selling more profitable alternatives. Also, there is a real danger that by using the store-banner brand to endorse their budget private labels, retailers run the risk of customers perceiving their brands to be of lower quality.

Value share of private labels on national food retail markets in the EU and Turkey
Country 2014 2012
Source of data: IGD, PLMA, Lebensmittel Zeitung No. 19, May 13, 2016
Switzerland 44.5% 45.5%
Spain 42.0% 41.0%
Great Britain 34.5% 38.5%
Germany 34.5% 30.5%
Portugal 32.9% 34.0%
Norway 22.7% 20.5%
Czech Republic 22.4% 18.0%
Italy 17.6% 17.0%
Greece 16.4% 17.5%
Turkey 15.0% 13.5%

Its report concluded, "Firstly, shoppers cannot be fooled with products of eroded quality at low prices when they can get both low prices and good quality at discount retailers. Secondly, retailers must understand that offering poor-quality products under their store-banner brand will harm consumer trust". For buyers in the private-label market, it's no longer going to be a case of good, better, best.

Source: European Supermarket Magazine 3/2016

Pet Foods

The German Pet Care Market 2015

Dogs and cats driving the market

The German pet industry realized an increase in turnover of 2.2% last year, up to a total of €4.11 billion, according to the Industrieverband Heimtierbedarf (IVH - Industrial Association of Pet Care Producers) and the Zentralverband Zoologischer Fachbetriebe (ZZF – German Pet Trade and Industry Association).

In addition, trade and industry experts estimate that online sales of pet products reached €450 million. Pet stores and supermarkets sold pet food to a value of €3,157 million, surpassing the 2014 total by 2.9%, while sales of pet requisites and accessories remained largely stable at €953 million (minus 0.3%).

Dog food trend

The market for dog food experienced significant growth of 4.6% in 2015, with sales in high street pet stores amounting to €1,323 million. This growth was driven in particular by the wet food segment (€415 million, up 6.4%) and treats (€479 million, up 5.7%). The trend in dry food is also upwards, with sales in this segment increasing by 1.7% to €429 million. "The strong growth rates in wet food and treats confirm key trends that we are observing at present", says ZZF president Norbert Holthenrich. "On the one hand, a growing number of dog owners are now opting for mixed feeding of wet and dry food, and so the demand for wet food in single-portion packs is greater. On the other hand, the demand for treats with added functional benefits and for reward items is continuing to grow."

The cat food market

Compared with 2014, the cat food market grew by 2.6%, with sales through pet stores and supermakets attaining €1,610 million. Here the wet food segment displaced treats as the growth driver: sales of wet food rose by 4.2% to €1,075 million, while treat sales increased by 0.4% to €239 million. By contrast, the dry food segment suffered a slight decline of one percent in sales to €296 million, but this drop was much less than in 2014.

"We believe that the marked growth in wet food is attributable among other things to cat owners switching increasingly to single-portion sizes," says IVH chairman Georg Müller. "We already saw this trend last year and we assume that it will continue."

Other pet food

After dog and cat food, food for small animals remains the third strongest food category. Nevertheless, the segment suffered a drop in sales of 4% to €120 million in th classic distribution channels in 2015.

Total Pet Care Market
Brick and Mortar Trade (Million €) Brick and Mortar Trade (Change ) Online (Million €)
Prepared pet food 3,157 +2.9%
Pet accessories 953 -0.3%
Total 4,110 +.2% 450
Market for Prepared Pet Food (Dog food)
Brick and Mortar Trade (Million €) Brick and Mortar Trade (Change)
Wet food 415 +6.4%
Dry food 429 +1.7%
Snacks 479 +5.7%
Total 1323 +4.6%
Market for Prepared Pet Food (Cat food)
Brick and Mortar Trade (Million €) Brick and Mortar Trade (Change)
Wet food 1075 +4.2%
Dry food 296 -1.0%
Snacks 239 +0.4%
Total 1610 +2.6%
Market for Prepared Pet Food (Bird food)
Brick and Mortar Trade (Million €) Brick and Mortar Trade (Change)
Complete and complementary food 44 -4.3%
Market for Prepared Pet Food (Fish food)
Brick and Mortar Trade (Million €) Brick and Mortar Trade (Change)
Complete and complementary food (including pond food) 60 -3.2%
Market for Prepared Pet Food (Other pet  food)
Brick and Mortar Trade (Million €) Brick and Mortar Trade (Change)
Compound food/snacks 120 -4.0%
Market for Prepared Pet Food (Total)
  • Brick and Mortar Trade (Million €): 3,157
  • Brick and Mortar Trade (Change) : +2.9%
Distribution channels

With sales of €767 million and a share of sales of 80%, pet stores remained the main sales channel for pet requisites and accessories in 2015, according to data from the IVH and ZZF, while the supermarkets (including drugstores and discounters) asserted their superiority as the foremost sales channel for pet food (sales: €2,067 million, share of sales: 65%).

Analysis by experts from industry and trade confirms that, as in recent years, the Internet is gaining in importance for pet products. The estimated volume of online sales in 2015 came to around €450 million. Differentiated species-specific data for the online mrket is not yet available, according to the IVH and ZZF.

Turnover by Sales Channel - Prepared pet food
Million € %
Food Retail 2067 65%
Specialized Trade 1090 35%
Total 3157 100%
Turnover by Sales Channel - Prepared accessories
Million € %
Food Retail 186 20%
Specialized Trade 767 80%
Total 953 100%
Information on Sales Channel "Online"

Regarding [pet care products, the Internet is gaining in importance. According to estimates by experts from the industry and trade, the online sales volume in 2015 amounted to approximately 450 million euros. As yet, no differentiated, species-specific data on the online market for "prepared pet food" as well as "pet accessories" is available.

Pet populations

Last year there were 30 million dogs, cats and small mammals and birds in Germany, as well as a large number of ornamental fish and reptiles. Overall, 43% of all German households kept pets, 58% of all families with children owned a pet, and 19% of all households with pets had at least two pets. These were the results of a representative survey commissioned by the IVH and ZZF from the market research company Skopos.

The cat is the number one pet in Germany: 12.9 million cats in total live in 22% of German households. Dogs come second, with 7.9 million 16% of households, in third place are small animals, numbering 5.1 million in 6% of households. The number of cage birds kept in 2015 came to 4.2 million in 3% of households. In the same period, 2.0 million aquariums and 1.6 million garden ponds with fish were to be found in 4% of German households in each case, while 700,000 terrariums existed in 1% of households.

Households in Germany with Pets

30 million pets (excluding fish and reptiles) live in households in Germany.

43% of all households own at least one pet.

  • 12.9 million cats in 22% of all households
  • 7.9 million dogs in 16% of all households
  • 5.1 million small animals in 6% of all households
  • 0.7 million terraria in 1% of all households
  • 1.6 million garden poinds (with oranmental fish) in 4% of all households
  • 2.0 million aquaria in 4% of all households
  • 4.2 million pet birds in 3% of all households
Pet owners

A trend emerged last year towards pet owning in smaller households. 29% of pets lived in single-person households (2014: 17%), 38% lived in two-person households (2014: 36%) and the remaining 33% were kept in households with three or more people.

Source: PET worldwide 3/2016

Labelling / Regulations

Germany backs proposal for legal definition of vegetarian and vegan food - By Niamh Michail, 01-June-2016

Germany has formally adopted a proposal for a legally binding definition of vegan and vegetarian food - but will it spur the Commission into finally drawing up an EU-wide definition or will it be another barrier to trade for EU manufacturers?

Consumer protection ministers of the German federal states [Länder] unanimously voted in favour of a proposal for a legal definition of the terms vegan and vegetarian last month. The wording of the definition was jointly and consensually developed by a Länder working group; industry lobby, the German Federation for Food Law and Food Science (Bund für Lebensmittelrecht und Lebensmittelkunde), and the German branch of the European Vegetarian Union (VEBU - Vegetarierbund Deutschland), which has been pushing for a definition for years. Political assistant at VEBU, Jan Felix Domke, told FoodNavigator: "The consumer protection ministers agree on joint political positions of the federal states. They don't decide on 'proper' laws though, in this case, the proposed definition has quite some legal effect (de facto) as the ministers decided that the food control authorities within their jurisdictions will use the definition whenever they have to decide whether a food may be labelled vegan or vegetarian." The definition means consumers can be sure that the products they buy are produced according to their expectations, while the legal certainty means manufacturers and retailers have a solid basis to enhance their ranges of vegan and vegetarian products, he added. "As a result, plant-based lifestyles will become easier."

Vegan foods are not of animal origin and in which, at no stage of production and processing, use has been made of or the food has been supplemented with:

  • ingredients (including additives, carriers, flavourings and enzymes)
  • processing aids
  • substances which are not food additives but are used in the same way and with the same purpose as processing aids in either processed or unprocessed form that are of animal origin.

Vegetarian foods meet the requirements of paragraph 1 with the difference that in their production, the following may be added or used:

  • milk
  • colostrum
  • eggs
  • honey
  • beeswax
  • propolis
  • wool grease (including lanolin derived from the wool of living sheep or their components or derivatives)

(translation by European Vegetarian Union - EVU)

Under the proposed German definition, fruit juice clarified with gelatine or bread made with flour that has been treated with animal-based cysteine cannot be considered vegetarian. The lack of a definition until now has resulted in a general mistrust of processed food, according to the EVU. The voluntary 'V label' helps dispel some of this mistrust - it is used by around 800 firms in Europe including Aldi, Alpro, Friesland Campina, Spar and Unilever - but there is an increasing need for clear labelling.

There are almost eight million vegetarians in Germany (around 10% of the population) and around 900,000 vegans, while a recent poll by Ipsos Mori commissioned by the British Vegan Society found the number of vegans in the UK has risen by 360% in the past 10 years. A fragmented market and barrier to trade?

The development also sends a strong signal to the Commission "to fulfil its duty" and legislate, said VEBU. Since 2011, the EU Food Information Regulation has required the European Commission to define requirements for "information related to suitability of a food for vegetarians or vegans", according to regulation 1169/2011), but it has so far failed to do so. All political parties in the German parliament [the Bundestag] have voiced their support for a timely adoption of legally binding definitions by the European Commission, said Domke. However, for Sebastián Romero Melchor, food lawyer and partner at Food Compliance International, Germany's definition may constitute a barrier to trade unless a similar definition is adopted across the EU.

"The inaction of the Commission leads, ultimately, to obstacles to the free movement of foodstuffs in the EU. Products which are labelled as vegan or vegetarian in other member states – and which are not compliant with the definition laid down in the new German provisions - will likely be deemed misleading. This implies changes to the label and, in some cases, producers may be forced to reformulate their products to be able to enter the German market." Melchor said the same situation could be seen with nutrient profiles and labelling of probiotic products where the lack of action by the Commission leads to a proliferation of national schemes. "[This] runs counter the very purpose of the internal market." But could this be the stimulus that the Commission finally needs to act on an issue it promised to deal with over four years ago? The EVU hopes so, and Romero Melchor is optimistic. "On a positive note, it can be expected that the German initiative prompts the Commission to finally tackle the issue and move forward with its legal obligation to enact legislation on the topic."

The Commission did not respond in time for publication of this article.

Copyright © 2000/2012 William Reed Business Media. Reprinted with the permission of This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization.

Glyphosate update: Final EU Commission decision

According to a press release of the European Commission, the following decision was taken on June 29:

"As a result, taking into account the extremely thorough and stringent scientific assessment of the active substance by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Member States' national agencies, the Commission extended today the approval of glyphosate for a limited period of time, until the end of 2017 at the latest."

By the end of 2017, an additional opinion on the properties of the active substance is expected from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the competent EU agency for the assessment of dossiers for the classification of chemical substances. Its opinion will be fully taken into account when deciding on subsequent steps. The Commission adopted the extension of the current approval of glyphosate for a limited period until the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) has concluded its review - since Member States failed to take responsibility as no qualified majority was reached at the Standing Committee on 6 June and again at the Appeal Committee on 24 June.

In parallel to the extension of the approval, the Commission has already presented to Member States a series of recommendations on the use of glyphosate. Discussions with the Member States have started at expert level, and the Commission will work to have them adopted as soon as possible. The decision will contain three clear recommendations:

  1. ban a co-formulant called POE-tallowamine from glyphosate based products
  2. minimise the use of the substance in public parks, public playgrounds and gardens
  3. minimise the pre-harvest use of glyphosate

It must be noted that it is primarily the responsibility of Member States to decide upon and enforce such measures. Discussions with the Member States took place this week but were inconclusive. The Commission regrets that Member States have not yet been able to agree to these restricted conditions and will direct the necessary efforts to have them adopted as soon as possible.

Source:, June 30, 2016

France will trial mandatory country of origin labelling for two years - By Niamh Michail, 06-July-2016

France will be trialling mandatory country of origin labelling for meat and dairy in prepared foods for two years, a move which has split industry. France confirmed this week that it will introduce mandatory country of origin labelling (COOL) for meat and mils in processed foods and prepared meals over a two-year trial period after getting the green light from the Commission Agriculture minister Stéphane Le Foll confirmed in a statement that Commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis told the French authorities it was not opposed to a trial period. The bill must now get the backing of the Conseil d'Etat and could enter into force on 1 January 2017. The specific details of how the labelling will be put in place will be discussed sector players and consumer rights associations.

Interbev, the French trade association which represents meat processors and livestock, said it was pleased with the "significant advance made", adding it would allow consumers clear and transparent information on the products they buy. It has been campaigning for origin labelling on both fresh and processed meat since the 'Horsegate' scandal of 2013 when DNA testing found horse meat in pre-prepared beef lasagne, sparking a crisis in consumer confidence.

The end of the single market?

But pan-European trade group FoodDrinkEurope (FDE) said it deeply regretted the decision. "Whilst the initiative is framed as a 'test' and applies only to France, it is a mandatory measure which will have an immediate market impact, with considerable negative consequences for producers and for consumers, namely burdensome changes in the supply chain, difficulties in the labelling process and higher prices," it said. "Moreover, of crucial importance in today's context for Europe, this protectionist measure also sets an irreversible precedent for the fragmentation of the EU Single Market for foods and drinks." It is also strongly opposed by dairy lobby, the European Dairy Association (EDA), which slammed the Commission for having failed to defend the core principles of the EU and said dairies in border regions will be particularly hard hit as they may have up to five EU member states in their milk collection area.

"The European Commission [has] clearly failed to protect the single market principle, which is from a political point of view a worst case scenario for the Union", said EDA secretary general Alexander Anton.

Eyes are now on other member states for any knock-on effects. Italy for its part has already moved to bring in similar labelling legislation but for dairy products only. "We have seen the French proposal going viral across Europe," said Anton. "The Italian government has already notified a draft decree, and others will certainly follow the French example. This translates as the end of the single market principle for milk and dairy products". Both the EDA and FDE have questioned the provision under which the labelling has been allowed, arguing that country of origin labelling is only permitted under EU law where there is a proven link between certain qualities of food and its origin or provenance. "The French decree fails to comply with this, as harmonised European legislation ensures the similarity of the quality of milk," said Anton.

Consumer rights organisation (BEUC): 'Fully in line' with EU labelling laws

But according to consumer rights organisation BEUC, the Food Information to Consumers (FIC) legislation (1169/2011) allows member states to introduce additional mandatory labelling if there is evidence that a majority of consumers feel this information is important. "We consider that the French decree is fully in line with the Food Information Regulation, as its main aim is to protect consumers and respond to their long standing demand for information on the origin of their food," reads an open letter signed by BEUC director general Monique Goyens and Alain Bazot, president of the French consumer rights group Que Choisir, and addressed to Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Que Choisir has been campaigning for mandatory origin labelling and, along with the agricultural association FNSEA and others, launched an online petition in February this year calling for mandatory labelling for processed meat which has to date attracted almost 30,000 signatures. CLITRAVI, the trade body representing the EU meat processing industry, called on the Commission to reaffirm its role as a guardian of the European Treaty by promoting the harmonised market. In authorising national provisions it is setting a bad example for other member states. "Food labelling is a harmonised issue which requires harmonised solutions", said its president Robert Volut.

France's food trade body ANIA took a cautiously measured stance on the issue back in February. Given that 68% of France's food exports are destined for the EU's single market, the mid-term impact on the "tense and fragile economic situation" needed to be evaluated, it said.

Copyright © 2000/2012 William Reed Business Media. Reprinted with the permission of This reprint does not constitute or imply any endorsement or sponsorship of any product, service, company or organization.

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