Food labeling after Brexit: What exporters need to know

Since 1 January 2021, the UK is no longer part of the European Single Market. New labeling laws now govern exports to Great Britain and food produced for the British market. A transition period until 1 October 2022 will give companies enough time to familiarise themselves with the new food-labeling requirements and set up their machinery correctly.

In this interview, our labelling expert Nils Berndt explains what to look out for.

Which information on food packaging for the British market needs to be adapted?

Nils Berndt: Companies wanting to export food to Great Britain must adjust the contact information and country of origin on their packaging. Don’t forget that there are special rules for Northern Ireland!

What do companies need to look out for with food packaging destined for export to Great Britain?

Nils Berndt, Weber Marking Systems labeling expert

Nils Berndt: The EU Regulation on the Provision of Food Information states that prepackaged foods in the EU must display contact information, including a name and address. Consumers can turn to that contact for complaints or questions about a product. This contact can be the manufacturer or the EU importer. What’s important is that every country or person has a seat or address in an EU country.

Great Britain has left the EU. This means that different rules have now come into effect. If you want to sell food in Great Britain, you must have British contact information on your labels by 1 October 2022 at the latest.

What are the new rules for labeling the country of origin?

Nils Berndt: According to the EU Regulation on the Provision of Food Information, labeling the country of origin is mandatory wherever consumers cannot straightforwardly determine the origin of a product. For some products, exactly stating the country or place of origin is required by law, and for some it’s voluntary.

In some cases, “EU” or “non-EU” is sufficient. This is the case when the origin of a primary ingredient is not the same as the origin of the food.

If products are intended for the British market, you can use “EU” or “non-EU” on British products until 30 September 2022. After that, producers or importers need to distinguish between “UK” and “non-UK”.

Consumers must be able to see where a product comes from. There must also be an address for complaints or questions about a product.

Northern Ireland has a special status. What does that mean for food labeling?

Nils Berndt: It’s true that Northern Ireland is an exception. On the one hand, it’s a province of the United Kingdom. On the other hand, it still belongs to the EU Single Market and Customs Union and is governed by EU regulations. However, we shall wait and see how that develops. It is highly possible that food-labelling laws will be amended in Northern Ireland.

</p> <p><strong>The Changes at a Glance:</strong></p> <p>
  • Contact information: Prepackaged food must feature a British address instead of an EU address as was the case before.
  • Country of origin: Food products for which countries of origin could previously be labelled as “EU” or “Non-EU” must now be marked as “UK” or “non-UK”.

  • Northern Ireland as a special case: Nothing changes for Northern Ireland. EU regulations continue to apply as Northern Ireland still belongs to the EU Single Market and Customs Union.

For more information about post-Brexit food labeling, go to the UK Government Digital Services website:

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