Faced with disruptions in the sunflower oil market, industry federations are pleading with the DGCCRF to relax certain labeling rules.
French fries, chips, ready meals or even cookies… Sunflower oil is an essential ingredient in the composition of more than “ 8000 products popular with French consumers, according to the Association of Processed Food Products Companies (Adepale). The problem is that Ukraine is the largest producer of sunflower oil in the world and Russia and Ukraine concentrate no less than 78% of world exports of this oil. A dependence on the production of these two countries that today puts manufacturers in the face of a shortage of this component of their recipes. “ Some manufacturers are already close to a sunflower oil supply shortage. Starting next week, some will be forced to substitute rapeseed oil, soybean oil or palm oil. », says Jérôme Foucault, president of Adepale.
But when a recipe change is made, consumers have to be informed, which is a problem in the current situation. “ It would be difficult for manufacturers to take care of all their labels in such a short time, especially as the market for labels and paper in general is currently under pressure. » explains Jérôme Foucault of Adepale.
A technical difficulty recognized by Olivier Andrault, responsible for the food mission within the UFC-Que Choisir consumer association: “ In general, the containers are ordered in gigantic quantities, for the whole year. In addition, you must reserve your place six months in advance. It is not possible from a practical or economic point of view to change them in a short time. That’s why the manufacturers are in “ discussion with the DGCCRF (Editor’s note: which monitors due consumer information) to obtain exemptions » explains Jérôme Foucault.
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A unique information site
Several options are on the table: the creation of a single information site where all the products whose recipe is modified would be presented. “ It is a minimum but it is very insufficient. We request that when the replacement component is potentially allergenic, this is indicated directly on each product by means of a label “says Olivier Andrault of UFC-Que Choisir. These are mainly biscuits, cakes, chocolates and other products in which soy lecithin has replaced sunflower lecithin.
A request understood by Adepale: “ For allergenic products, this is obvious, but also for those whose non-GMO or palm oil claim, for example, will no longer be true. “In fact, Ukraine is a major supplier of non-GMO sunflower seeds and cakes for livestock feed. Due to lack of availability, breeders will have no choice but to turn to GM soybean meal. Therefore , a consensus seems to have been reached on these particular cases.
But the Association of Prepared Food Products Companies (Adapale) calls for speed in decision-making for the rest of the products, whose modification of recipes does not involve an allergen or an allegation that is misleading: “ The situation must be unblocked on products that are safe for consumers. It is urgent “, hammers its president.
At this point, the consumer associations ask that information boards be placed in the affected departments, indicating the changes in the recipes and their consequences on the products. But the return of the professionals of the large distribution and their opinion on the matter are long in coming. In fact, the cost of establishing these information panels would be borne by them. “We temporarily accept that labels will not be changed in light of the situation. But for fair information to consumers, these panels are necessary“says Olivier Andrault of UFC-Que Choisir.
contacted by The Figarothe DGCCRF assured that “ arbitrations have not yet taken place but should happen soon ».
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