During an 18 January 2024 European Parliament plenary session, MEPs largely voted to approve a non-binding report proposed by the Fisheries Committee on marketing standards for fish and seafood. The report also contains two points that recommend limiting denominations for plant-based fish alternatives. The vote sends a much-misguided signal to the European Commission that it should, in turn, change its current position on the matter.
The report aimed to make use of (once more) the argument that consumers are confused by fish-related labels on plant-based foods and that therefore such labelling should be restricted – if not banned outright. As presented by the European Vegetarian Union during the Committee’s hearing on the same topic, data demonstrates again and again that customers are not confused by these terms. Moreover, recent findings have shown important increases in the purchase and consumption of plant-based alternatives across Europe. The labelling of plant-based foods is sufficiently clear and informative, and any bans in this sense will only lead to greater customer confusion. These are moreover important alternatives that can play a role in addressing climate and environment-related issues.
Whilst the Green party in the European Parliament tabled some positive amendments that went in the right direction, these were ultimately voted down in a show of hands. The result is therefore a disappointing one, and the European Vegetarian Union will continue to call on the Commission to uphold its current stance – that current regulations are fit-for-purpose – and recognise the vital role plant-based foods can play in reducing our environmental impact.