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The plant-based market continues to grow worldwide. According to a report from Bloomberg Intelligence, the global market for alternative plant-based proteins is expected grow to $166 billion by 2030. In Brazil, the surveyThe Brazilian Consumer and the Plant-Based Market 2022”, carried out by The Good Food Institute Brazil (GFI Brazil), reports that 67% of respondents reduced their consumption of animal-derived ingredients over the past year. This is a growing market, with strong investment in research and development and expansion opportunities.  Given this growth, even traditional companies in the animal protein business are investing in plant-based proteins.   

New trends bring new discussions on the sufficiency of the regulations in force regarding these trends. On July 3, 2023, the Ordinance #831/2023 was officially published by the Office of Agricultural Defense of the Ministry of Agriculture (SDA/MAPA), launching a public comment period on a regulatory proposal for plant-based foods in Brazil.

The proposed regulation aims to establish the minimum requirements of identity and quality for similar plant-based products, as well as the visual identity and labeling rules for these products. It intends to define the parameters for this type of product, which includes the so-called “vegetarian meat”.

This is not the first time a social engagement procedure was conducted by the SDA/MAPA on this matter. In 2021, it published the Call for Subsidies # 05/2021, which set a period between June and September 2021, for the receipt of documents, information, and other contributions relating to the discussion on the regulation of processed products of vegetal origin. Generally, this procedure has been used to promote the evolution and maturation of the discussions on a given topic in a regulatory body for the purpose of preparing a normative proposal.

One of the debates that has arisen over the last few years is whether these products would continue to be called “meat”, and if so, whether this would create confusion for consumers. The proposed regulation from SDA/MAPA sets the minimum information that must appear on a label, including: (i) the name of the product for purposes of sale; (ii) the inclusion, on the main panel, of the phrase “vegetable equivalent to”, followed by the name of the corresponding product of animal origin; and (iii) a notice that the product does not replace its analogue of animal origin in nutritional or functional terms.

In addition, the use of derogatory terms for products of animal origin as well as misleading information and unauthorized nutrition claims have been expressly prohibited in Brazil. However, the use of the name of the product of animal origin with the word “vegetable” is permitted (e.g., vegetable sausage). The intention behind the regulation is to avoid providing misleading information to the consumer.

The proposal also sets forth the minimum quality requirements for plant-based food products, considering the characteristics and composition of each product. There are four main requirements: (i) the use of ingredients as authorized by specific legislation; (ii) the product be free of substances harmful to health and meet the microbiological standards provided for in specific legislation; (iii) the product be produced in accordance with good manufacturing practices; and (iv) the product be free of foreign odors.   Given these requirements, this potential new rule will likely refer to other regulations in force, especially regarding authorized ingredients. It is important to note that the regulations of Brazil’s FDA (ANVISA) are also relevant to plant-based foods.

The period for public comment is open until September 15, 2023.

This post was written by Lisa Mueller and Ana Calil and Rob Rodrigues of Licks Attorneys.

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