France became the first EU country to ban words like “steak” and “sausage” applied to plant-based food. The decree becomes effective next October and states, “it will not be possible to use sector-specific terminology traditionally associated with meat and fish to designate products that do not belong to the animal world and which, in essence, are not comparable”.
The regulation only applies to products made in France, and the country's largest farm lobby FNSEA said it did not go far enough as it left the door open to imports. It demanded similar laws should be enacted at the European level, but the EU rejected a similar proposal in 2020.
Some terms, such as butter, milk, and cheese are already protected on the European level and cannot be applied to plant-based products. Words like burger are, however, allowed to be used on meat alternatives.
The market for vegetarian and vegan meat-like food has surged in recent years as more people are concerned about climate change, animal welfare, and nutrition tendencies. This has in turn attracted major investment from global agrifood groups hoping to capitalize on the move to healthier diets with an annual 18% increase.
Investors, venture capitalists, as well as increased investments from agri-food giants such as Cargill, Danone and Nestle, have helped boost growth of veggie and vegan industries.