Nowadays consumers are increasingly interested in buying products that are ‘locally produced’, ‘produced nearby’, ‘zero-mile’ or other such designations. However, in the absence of a definition or a common understanding of what ‘local’ means, the widespread use of such labels in the food sector is creating confusion across the EU and could be misleading to consumers.
There is an urgent need to clarify and provide a proper interpretation of the meaning of ‘locally produced’ to ensure transparency and avoid deceiving consumers. We therefore ask the Commission: does this concept refer to the number of kilometres between the production site and the point of sale? Does it imply that production is located within the same municipality as the retailer, is it within the same region or within the same country? Can ‘locally produced’ in some cases refer to cross-border shopping within the EU? In fact, it can sometimes be closer and more environmentally friendly to buy across the border, for instance, instead of in the same country. Is it only a matter of distance, or also a matter of production method, such as artisan versus industrially produced, small-scale versus larger companies? Should all the ingredients be local or only the main ingredient?
Against this background, does the Commission intend to carry out an analysis of the situations in the various Member States? Will the Commission provide guidelines for a definition and criteria for labelling what is ‘locally produced’, as a way to ensure that consumers can make free and informed choices, based on clear and correct information? How does the Commission intend to proceed to make sure that the concept of ‘locally produced’ does not lead to food nationalism or is against the spirit of the internal market?