For food transitions to accelerate, the truth must be back on the shelves. The Collective calls for more transparency on the part of food industry players.
Where do Dijon mustard seeds come from? And blue-white-red tuna? And the strawberries in French jams? Partial, fanciful or non-existent indications: on the origins, transparency is put to the test and the law is not systematically on its side. In order to allow everyone to choose their food in all conscience, the 48 food brands united within the Collectif En Vérité are mobilizing to reveal practices that are detrimental to all the food industry and to request clarification of the legislation for the benefit of the food transition. Welcome to Absurdie, country of origins with variable geography!
Does “made in France” play fair?
Appearing massively on labels, the tricolor flag is a powerful marketing argument for brands. And a pledge of confidence for consumers sought after, particularly since the start of the health crisis. But behind the “made in France”, what do we really find? Are we right to blindly trust patriot mentions?
Fasten your seatbelts, the trip is lunar
On the shelves, the French are sometimes confronted with indications and lunar labeling, but they are not all astronauts… To allow all consumers to finally find their way around in the blink of an eye, without research worthy of a space exploration among the labels and indications of origins, the Collectif En Vérité is committed!
French jams made from Polish strawberries
For a jam, boasting of being “made in France”, with the French flag in support, is possible as long as its last substantial transformation was carried out in France. And, indeed, “the majority of jams bearing these mentions are entirely processed in France” explains Coline BURLAND, co-founder of Omie & Cie. But in the cauldron, is the fruit French? It is not at all mandatory, including for fruits that grow very well in France, such as strawberries. “We observe that, too often, products labeled “Made in France”, and on which a French flag is affixed, are in fact only made up of imported products.” Thus, “While doing our research for supplies, we realized that the strawberry jams “made in France” were composed of strawberries that came to 90%… from Poland”.
“We believe that this lack of obligation as to the origin of products is not sustainable for French agriculture, which cannot be competitive with countries that produce at a lower cost. »
Consumers in the fog on seafood products
“It is possible to put a French flag on a can of tuna caught by a boat flying the French flag, but landed and manufactured in Côte d’Ivoire. On the other hand, it is impossible to stamp blue-white-red tuna caught by Irish boats, but landed and produced in Douarnenez”, in Brittany… in France then! explains Béatrice Feutré, Sales and Marketing Director of Maison Chancerelle (Connétable, Phare d’Eckmühl, Le Savoureux).
For the French in search of transparency as to the origins of the products they consume, it is difficult to find their way, with indications which are not reliable and which do not reflect expectations in terms of origin. “At Connétable, we decided to affix the mention “prepared in Brittany”, to indicate to our consumers that all the stages of production are carried out in France”.
Is Dijon mustard still?
Renowned worldwide, the origin of Dijon mustard sounds obvious to consumers. Its origin is indicated in the name, difficult to make more clear! And yet, the vast majority of the mustard seeds needed to make it come from… Canada.
« On the shelves, the brands proudly display the mention “Dijon mustard”, letting consumers think that they are buying a French product, but this is not the case. By returning the jars, the observation is clear: the origin of the Canadian or Chinese mustard seeds is not indicated. Should we accept the fact that it is not mandatory to display the origin of the products on the packaging? explains Sébastien LOCTIN, founder of .Nod.
Juices, not in a hurry to display their origins?
Present alongside the French every morning, fruit juices are among the flagship products of everyday consumption. And yet, no regulation obliges the manufacturers to mention the precise origin of the fruits. Paradoxically, the regulations are firm and only authorize the mention “made in France” if the entire manufacturing process takes place in France (bottling and packaging). “In this case, the origin of the fruit must also be specified, but in an “evasive” way: EU/NON-EU origin may be sufficient! explains Alexia CHASSAGNE, founder of Juste.
OPACITY, A LOST BET FOR ALL
The agri-food market is now divided into two types of players: those who clearly indicate the origin of their products, and those who take advantage of regulatory gray areas by not doing so. The lack of commitment on origin allows profitable arrangements, and dubious practices that are detrimental to consumers and all stakeholders (farmers, processors, environment). This opacity is slowing down efforts towards the food transition when, on the contrary, it is essential to speed it up.
The blur taken advantage of
Savings on the sectors
Actors who do not indicate the origin of their products have a limited approach to traceability. They often resort to less costly channels but also less expensive from the point of view of quality and production conditions.
“We have chosen to communicate on the origin of our coffees, by offering Pure Origin coffees, to highlight the coffee terroirs and the know-how of the producers. Our desire is thus to protect certain rare origins and to fight against a possible standardization of tastes. Other brands have not made this choice and offer blended coffees, which are often less expensive. At Lobodis, we work with responsible but excellent sectors, on which we want to communicate in complete transparency. This is reflected in the prices. Without indication and without pedagogy on the origins, consumers cannot always understand it”reveals Frédéric Lerebour, CEO of Lobodis.
While playing on French identities
Packaging with gastronomic codes reminiscent of French cuisine, evocative names of French culinary culture… Many brands skilfully maintain a vagueness about the origins of their products, in order to seduce consumers, even if it means misleading them. These strategies have proven their effectiveness over the years, placing brands at the top, without ever informing consumers about the origin of products and raw materials.
Lifting the veil on the true value of transparency
In a market dominated by opacity, telling the truth can sometimes represent a risk. The profusion of information drags brands down by blurring understanding. Sincere and misleading approaches are confused… In such a nebulous market, it is impossible for virtuous initiatives to emerge and be properly understood and appreciated by consumers.
Expensive work on supply chains and supply
Transparency begins at the origins, from the supply and creation of the sectors. Producing well has a cost, and the members of the Collectif En Vérité know this.
For Élodie GERMAIN, co-creator of 3 Chouettes: “ The transformation of organic and French vegetables requires displaying a price higher than that charged by processors of globalized and standardized products. Commitment is not rewarded or encouraged. “.
The price of products that cultivate transparency is in reality much lower than the hidden costs of opacity: relocated production, lower farmers’ salaries, uncontrolled environmental impacts. It is time to stop tolerating it and to allow the most virtuous practices to become the norm, to make them more accessible to everyone, for the benefit of everyone.
THE PROPOSALS OF THE COLLECTIVE IN TRUTH FOR TRANSPARENCY ON ORIGINS
Because information on the origin, when it is not simply absent, often lacks clarity, it is urgent to give the French people the power to choose without ambiguity the origin of the products they consume.
Whatever their respective activities and commitments, the brands of the collective share one observation: climate and public health issues require accelerating the food transition.
While nurturing and nurturing should be simple acts, they have become terribly complex. The reason: an asymmetry of information between the proliferation of labels or indicators with variable geometry and brands that prefer to remain silent…
This situation is no longer tenable. This is why the brands of the Collective are uniting today, to demand new rules of transparency through harmonized and mandatory labelling.
Allow the French, at a glance, to know what they eat and to understand the impact of their purchases on their health, on society and on the planet.
The Collectif En Vérité asks the legislator to impose harmonized, simplified and mandatory information criteria on all products on all food brands.
In the same way as on the origin, En Vérité wishes the implementation of a labeling relating to three other key information identified by the collective as real issues of food resilience, demanded by the French:
• the type of agriculture,
• nutritional quality,
• the presence of additives.
Members of the En Vérité Collective
.nod, Quintesens, Alpina Savoie, d’Aucy, Omie & Cie., Jardin Bio, Food 4 good, Hari & co, Babybio, VRAI, Sojade, Juste, Priméal, Famille TEULET, SODIAAL, Candia, Entremont, Renard Gillard, Fromagerie de Saint-Flour, Nature de Breton, Yoplait Maison LE GOFF, Lobodis Café, LBF, Mo rice, Marcel Bio, Les 3 chouettes, MAZETTE!, La Preserverie, Archigood, L’Atelier V, NO FILTER, LOU Champignon, Krokola , Forbidden fruits, Joody, Supernature, NUDJ, Jubilees, Connétable, Phare d’Eckmul, Le Savoureux, Biorgan, Foodette, Funky Veggie, Chiche, Veridix, Bio by Heart. The collective is supported by Transformation Positive.