Agricultural Addition Issue 21 AutumnWinter 2017-18 - page 4

• autumn 17 • Issue 21
Laura Clarke, Head of Food and Drink, WBW Solicitors
It’s fair to say that local food
is big business. Farmer’s
markets, farm shops, artisan
pies, craft beers and
local cheeses…all have
experienced a surge in
growth over the last
ten years, no doubt helped
along by social media
spreading the word via
Facebook and Twitter.
So it’s tempting for an
agricultural business to
grab a slice of the pie, both
in the real, and the financial
sense. Why not add value to
your beef by selling pasties
in the farm shop? Or how
about turning your kale into
a trendy smoothie at the
farmer’s market?
Some new EU legislation
which came into force in
December 2016 might make
business owners pause and
consider whether there is
anything they need to do,
apart from the obvious
food safety and hygiene
requirements. Food
labelling requirements have
undergone major changes
with the introduction of
the Provision of Food
Information Consumers
Regulation (the ‘FIC’), which
provides that provision of
nutrition information has
been compulsory from 13
December 2016. In other
words, anyone, whether
an individual, small farm,
large agricultural business
or multi-national company,
who produces food must
put a nutrition declaration
on the pack, showing
calories, carbohydrate, fat,
salt and protein. There are
laboratories who specialise
in testing food so these
labels can be produced,
but this obviously comes
at a cost.
So, should farmers assume
that the new labelling
laws mean that it’s too
much trouble to sell their
food to the public? Not
necessarily, as there are
some exemptions which
will help them. Exemptions
are for minimally processed
food such as meat (but
not meat products such as
sausages and pies, although
see the exemptions below),
herbs and honey, very
small packets of food and
alcoholic drinks.
There is also an exemption
for businesses with a
turnover of less than £1.4M
where food is supplied
direct to the consumer,
(this would cover farmers’
markets), and where these
smaller businesses supply
food to the consumer
via a third party, if this
third party is a ‘local retail
establishment supplying
direct to the consumer’,
such as a farm shop. There
are special rules which
define what ‘local’ means
in this context. It’s also
worth taking care that
you are not caught by
the labelling regulations
where the whole farm has
a turnover of more than
£1.4 million, but only a small
part of the business deals
with food production, as
the exemptions for smaller
businesses won’t apply.
If you are in any doubt
about whether the
regulations apply to your
business, please contact us
and we will be happy
to help.
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