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The European food industry: Health claims, recession and global competition

By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn , 05-Dec-2013

We gave the European food industry a check-up at this year’s Food Ingredients Europe (FiE), talking with some of the industry's top ingredients players about EU health claims, economic recovery and how to remain competitive on a global stage.

The FoodNavigator crew took to the busy floor of this year's event in Frankfurt to speak with representatives from the likes of Cargill, Ingredion and DSM. 

Economic shape

Jorgen Kokke, vice president and general manager at Ingredion, said that while the European Union had been affected by the economic recession, many food producers export to global markets which are still experiencing growth.

Olivier du Châtelier, business development leader at Cargill, said: “People are more and more cautious about when they launch a new product. They want to have the value position right, the pricing right.” He said that for this reason manufacturers need to trust that the supplier can support “long cycle projects".

Competitive on a global stage

Lars Asferg, business unit director for enzymes solutions at DSM, said that trust was key if Europe is to remain competitive on a global stage. “In Europe I think the main driver will be to ensure that we always have the highest level of quality and traceability and that we really bring trust and trust of products to our customers. That is really what we should be focusing on here,” he told FoodNavigator.  

Sarita Bairoliya, probiotics global marketing manager for Chr. Hansen, said that it is all about investment in innovation and technology, while Kokke said that it is critical that manufacturers continue to develop appealing and clean labelled products.

EU health claim play

Ewa Hudson, Euromonitor’s global head of health and wellness research, said that the changes to health claim regulations in the European Union have seen a number of new product launches as companies reformulate and fit around alterations to the claims they can legally make. 

Châtelier said that tight regulation means that the EU can be very proud of being a “superior example” of discipline and risk assessment for other geographies. However, like DSM’s Asferg, he suggested that these regulations have influenced the industry’s ability to launch products fast while keeping within these legal parameters.

Asferg added to this sentiment saying that EFSA takes a long time to communicate the dossier requirements for each health claim. He said: “For an industry that works with very long time horizons it is very difficult to plan and make sure we can comply in time. So clarity and speed will for sure help the industry to move forward.”

Chr Hansen’s Bairoliya said that regulation will always be a consideration and that companies must try to find ways around this challenge through innovation. 

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