South Africa Meat CEO Says Plant-Based Products Could Confuse Consumers

A planned new law would prevent meat alternatives from being labeled with names like “burger” and “sausage”


2 Minutes Read

A selection of plant-based 'meats' in a supermarket South Africa is cracking down on vegan meat alternatives being labeled things like 'sausage' and 'burger' - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

The CEO of the South African Meat Processors Association (SAMPA) has said that labeling plant-based products with “meat names” could confuse consumers. 

Peter Gordon appeared on the South African investigative TV show Carte Blanche, which is watched by around 200,000 people. He appeared as part of a segment that discussed the planned ban on plant-based product labels that use “meat” terminology.

It was announced earlier this year that the Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) had banned plant-based products from being labeled with descriptors like “meatball,” “sausage,” or “biltong.”

These products were set to be stripped from the shelves in August, but the plans were put on pause after the Johannesburg High Court intervened. 

“I think there are certainly some products where people would pick up a pack, think they’re buying a beef sausage or a lamb sausage, and actually get home and find they haven’t got what they wanted,” Gordon told host Derek Watts. “And that’s what we’re trying to prevent.”

But, at the start of the segment, Watts said: “At a time of significant global pressure for us to cut meat consumption to reduce our global footprint, many have questioned the department’s timing and motives.”

Watts also discussed the changes with Natalia Kostanova Fernandez, who owns Meraki Plant Based Food. She spoke of her fears that the new rules could put her out of business.

“Should it go forward and we have to remove all products from the shelves, it will be a considerable financial loss for us,” she said. “Especially for us being a very small company. So, it could essentially make us close our doors, which would be devastating.”

The backlash to the ban

Vegan organizations, including Pro Veg South Africa, have been vocal in their criticism of the ban and have expressed fears that product seizures could take place at any moment. 

“Although we welcome the decision by the court, we would like to reiterate our call for further dialogue as we still believe that this matter should be settled through discussion between the plant-based food industry, DALLRD, and the meat industry,” ProVeg country director Donovan Will said in a statement.

According to Business Insider South Africa, both those who support and oppose the ban will reconvene in court later this year. 

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