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Business News/ News / India/  Industry body against food regulator’s front-of-pack labelling proposal
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Industry body against food regulator’s front-of-pack labelling proposal

The Indian Sellers Collective has claimed that FOPNL will lead to ethnic Indian foods being classified as unhealthy, cause severe loss of business to MSME packaged food manufacturers and sellers and open the floodgates for western packaged food

The industry association said the exemption list disregards Indian origin food product categories and instead pushes western products which are high on sugar, salt and fat. (iStockphoto)Premium
The industry association said the exemption list disregards Indian origin food product categories and instead pushes western products which are high on sugar, salt and fat. (iStockphoto)

New Delhi: Indian Sellers Collective, an umbrella body of trade associations and sellers across the country, on Wednesday opposed the food regulator’s proposal on Front of Pack Nutrition Labelling (FOPNL) regulation, saying it could put traditional Indian snack and beverage makers on the back-footing.

“The representative body has claimed that FOPNL will lead to ethnic Indian foods being classified as unhealthy, cause severe loss of business to MSME packaged food manufacturers and sellers and open the floodgates for western packaged food to capture the Indian markets," the association said in a statement on Wednesday.

Under the proposed FOPNL, packaged food and beverages will be given star ratings like ‘one-star food’, ‘two-star food’, and therefore ‘good-food’, ‘not-good food’, etc. based on their salt, sugar, and fat content. India’s top food regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India or FSSAI has published draft notification on front-of-pack labeling for packaged food products in a bid to regulate their fat, sugar and salt content.

Since, traditional Indian cuisine makes use of salt, sugar, and fat, for various scientific and customary reasons, these items will ostensibly be marked ‘unhealthy’ under the proposed mathematical calculation and expression of star rating system, leading to consumers rejecting them, the industry association said.

To be sure, India’s packaged foods and beverages industry is dominated by foods such as bhujiya, dhokla and murukku; sweets like gulab jamun, ras malai and barfi or soft beverages likes nimbu panni, lassi etc.

The industry association added that the regulation could favour multinational food companies that may be better equipped to modify the nutrient composition of their food products in order to secure a better health star rating. For instance, large snacking companies could add nuts and fruits to their existing product to gain favourable ratings; similar changes can be made to beverages.

“Large distributors and big retail who are thriving through collaborations with MNC and large food companies will continue to sell the reconstituted, western packaged foods in India, as adoption of FONPL will go on to destroy the market for traditional Indian packaged foods. However, the millions of small, independent sellers who largely depend on MSME manufacturers and packaged traditional Indian snacks to earn their livelihoods, will have no recourse, thereby threatening their very survival," said Dhairyashil Patil, president, All India Consumer Products Distributors Federation (AICPDF).

The draft notification by FSSAI also provides list of solid foods and liquid foods which will be exempted from FOPNL. The exemption list disregards Indian origin food product categories and instead pushes western products which are high on sugar, salt and fat, it added.

India’s food processing industry accounts for 32% of the country’s total food market, according to industry estimates. A majority of processed food market of India is concentrated in tier II and tier III towns. Almost 79% of this market is dominated by MSME players. The roll-out of the Front of Pack Nutrition Labelling Regulation could pose a threat to small manufacturers.

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Published: 09 Nov 2022, 02:13 PM IST
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