Plant-based brands in South Africa can no longer use “meaty” terminology to sell their products.
The country’s Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development has banned terms like “plant-based meatballs” and “chicken-style strips.”
While the South African Meat Processors Association (SAMPA) maintains that these terms are “misleading,” plant-based companies disagree. Tammy Fry of meat-free brand Fry Family Foods, for example, says that the terminology used to sell its products is the opposite of confusing.
Right now, the South Africa-based company sells products like Chicken-Style Burgers, Meat Free Mince, Chick’n Fillets, and Battered Prawn-Style Pieces, all made from plant-based ingredients. “Our product descriptions play an important role in helping out consumers understand how to use our products,” Fry told Food Navigator.
She added that customers “appreciate clear, direct communication,” and if the brand cannot use terms like “nuggets” or “mince,” this will create more confusion.
Hindering climate crisis action
The ban is also detrimental to climate crisis action, maintains ProVeg International. Donovan Will, country director at ProVeg South Africa, said the regulation is “exactly what we don’t need.”
Animal agriculture is harming the planet. Not only does it emit 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gases, but it also drives deforestation and uses up resources. Eating one to two portions of beef, for example, requires six tennis courts’ worth of land. One to two portions of lamb requires double that.
Fry added that “plant-based foods play a vital role in making our food systems more sustainable.”
Last year, the state of Texas also approved a bill banning “meat” and “beef” labels on plant-based products, and Australia launched a senate inquiry into a potential ban.
But research shows that consumers are not misled by meat terms on plant-based products.
In 2021, Cornell University found that participants were not confused by meaty terms on plant-based foods. In fact, researchers argued that omitting these words “causes consumers to be significantly more confused about the taste and uses of these products.”