Apple volumes in Europe are set to rise by 10 percent, while pear supplies are expected to tumble by 28 percent. This shows that there is a mixed outlook for the production of the two fruits this 2021.
This is as the US Food Labeling Modernisation Act (FLMA) has been introduced in both houses of Congress. If passed, it will update front-of-pack food labeling requirements, demand updates to the ingredient list on packaged foods and apply consumer-friendly labeling requirements.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, Frank Pallone, Jr. says “American consumers have a right to know what’s in the food they and their families eat, but that isn’t always easy with today’s opaque food labels and marketing claims.”
Majority of the food labeling provisions of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act have not been updated since 1990 and, in some cases, have not been changed since 1938. As a result, labels do not provide the information that today’s consumers need to evaluate and compare products in order to make healthy choices, explains the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
FLMA’s signature initiative directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish a single, standard, front-of-package nutrition labeling system for all packaged food products regulated by the agency.
Adding, Senator Richard Blumenthal said, “FLMA will ensure serving sizes are updated, allergens are clearly labeled and nutritional information is transparent. This gives people the tools they need to make healthier choices and avoid misleading, deceptive pitches and promotions.”
The bill requires products with claims about healthy ingredients like fruits, vegetables and whole grains to list the amount per serving or percentages of these ingredients. This would stop companies from including trivial amounts of these ingredients and then highlighting their presence.
FLMA will also clamp down on the marketing of toddler milks, which are not recommended by health experts. Last year, a paper revealed that formula companies had quadrupled their spending on toddler milk marketing in ten years, which often feature unsubstantiated claims.
Another aspect of the act is creating clear and consistent standards for popular marketing terms like “healthy” and “natural.” An industry roundtable earlier this year weighed in on what naturality actually entails for manufacturers and consumers.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which is supporting the act, similar labeling systems are already in use in dozens of other countries.
In addition to helping consumers select healthier foods, they have also been effective at prompting the food industry to decrease the levels of over-consumed nutrients like sugar, sodium and saturated fat in processed foods.
FLMA will, for instance, allow for sodium reduction in the food supply by amending “standards of identity,” which currently require minimum levels of salt in staples like bread and cheese.
The use of salt substitutes like potassium chloride could lead to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and blood pressure, CSPI argues.
While FLMA was previously introduced in 2018, this version includes new language targeting emerging food marketing trends.
For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend toward buying groceries online, but labeling laws do not require nutrition information to be available at the online point of sale. FLMA would update labeling laws to require nutrition facts, ingredient and allergen information to be displayed for online grocery items.
CSPI’s Executive Director and President, Peter Lurie,.argues that another impact of the pandemic has been highlighting how ill health can make people more vulnerable to new threats, argues Peter Lurie,
“Many of the same conditions identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as risk factors for severe illness from COVID-19 can result, in part, from poor quality diets. It’s time for the US to take bold action to reduce the prevalence of diet-related diseases by passing FLMA”, he says.
Other organisations supporting the act are Consumer Reports, Environmental Working Group, Gluten Free Watchdog, National Celiac Association, Celiac Disease Foundation, Beyond Celiac and Gluten Intolerance Group.
The figures for the apple and pear outlook were however, released at the Prognosfruit 2021 Online Conference, during which it was announced that the season would likely start one week later than normal.
“The apple production in the EU for the 21 top producing countries contributing to this report is estimated for the 2021/2022 season to be 11.7 million metric tons (MT). Overall, this year’s crop is estimated to be 10% higher than last year, but 1% only up from the 3-year average,” said Philippe Binard.
The European crop continues its adaptation of the varieties and quality specifications demanded by consumers. President of WAPA, Dominik Wozniak, indicated: “The new season is due to start in general one week later than average. Size across Europe is catching up to be more on the average size for this season compared to the average.
“The market outlook is promising to be balanced between opportunities on the domestic market, with development on strategic export markets as well as volume for processing estimated to be about 4 million MT, balancing supply being the fresh and processed markets. Organic production continues to grow slowly each year reaching now around 6% of total EU crop.”
Binard added that while the EU apple crop is larger, the 2021 pear crop is estimated to decrease by 28% compared to last year to 1.6 million MT and by 27% compared to the three-year average.
“This is the smallest decade crop for pears”, he said. “On the varieties, this translates into a decrease of Conference pear by 18% to 805.000 T. Abate is also impacted with a crop reduced to 66,000 MT, down by 73%.”