Earlier, we reported that the experiment on labeling "Honest mark" will end in March, and since June 1 will begin mandatory labeling of dairy products. What is strange, the Ministry of industry and trade decided not to wait for the end of the experiment, summing up, and announced a full-scale introduction of labeling for dairy products after only 2 months after the start of the pilot project.
The CATD (the Center of advanced technology development, however, believes that "determining the date of mandatory digital labeling of finished dairy products - June 1, 2020 - increases the predictability of the project both for companies representing the dairy industry, and for us as the operator of the system".
What will this project bring to the dairy industry? How did the dairy market participants and experts react to it? And will the introduction of labelling for all food products be beneficial? Read about it in the material of The DairyNews.
Are "Mercury" and "Honest mark" the same things, but with a different face?
Today, more and more dairy producers agree that the labeling system of dairy products is nothing more than a duplication of the previously introduced system "Mercury", which provides control of raw milk to the processing plant. And this is despite the statements of the Center of advanced technology development (CATD), which oversees the experiment, that work inside the pilot project will maximally exclude possible duplication of systems.
- Systems perform different functions - "Mercury" controls raw milk to the factory, and “Honest mark” every unit of finished products from the factory to the sale at the checkout. Retail is already integrated with “Honest mark”, as it has implemented a system with products for which labeling has already become mandatory. In addition, the “Honest mark” makes the buyer an important participant in the digital platform, giving him a tool of public control - the ability to check all products using a mobile application - noted in the press service of the CATD.
Concerns about the advisability of introducing two systems of traceability were expressed in Soyuzmoloko. Earlier, the industry Association sent a letter to the Ministry of industry and trade with a request to analyze the introduction of labeling in order to find out whether it makes sense at all. The Union also rreminded that the EAEU rules and Russian laws provide for the analysis of the feasibility of mandatory labeling for a certain, specific group of goods. Methodical recommendations to the experiment begun in July are not still available, and in the Union they consider that officials simply ignored the law.
A similar point of view is expressed in the National Meat Association:
- Before taking any decisions on the labeling of products, it is first necessary to carry out a full analysis of the measures taken in this matter, as well as an analysis of the entire situation in the food industry".
The response of the CATD was not long in coming. According to the company, mandatory labeling is introduced in accordance with the agreement signed in July on “public-private partnership to create a national system of marking and tracing”.
- Determination of expediency of introduction of labeling in different commodity groups is in competence of the regulator represented by the state. In accordance with the decisions taken by the Government, the CATD creates components of the system and works with industries in order to introduce digital labeling in a comfortable mode for companies in a timely manner, noted the press service of the CATD.
Is it worth it?
The question is quite debated. From a material point of view, according to Soyuzmoloko, the introduction of mandatory labeling will cost the dairy industry 25 billion rubles – this amount will include only the purchase of unique QR codes, for each of which you will have to pay 50 cents without VAT. And that's not to mention installing tens of thousands of printers to print QR codes on packaging. For each subsequent year of work, the industry will spend another 20 billion rubles of operating expenses on labeling – and this despite the fact that the net profit of the entire industry, according to official data, for 2018 amounted to 35 billion rubles.
As for the benefits in the case of the introduction of these systems, they are still very vague. That is what General Director of Soyuzmoloko Artem Belov said:
- We believe it is important to note that when analyzing the feasibility of introducing a duplicate labeling system, it is necessary to take into account only the contribution to reducing the volume of illegal turnover of dairy products and achieving other goals that the introduction of a labeling system will give in addition to the effect expected from the full implementation of the traceability system based on Federal State Information System “Mercury”.
Sergey Yushin, Head of the National Meat Association, noted that the supporters of the introduction of labeling have not got enough arguments in favor of its necessity:
- In my opinion, it is necessary to evaluate not the labeling itself, but the decision to introduce labeling. And it is, in my opinion, very poorly reasoned. Arguments that would prove the need for such labeling and the necessity of the imminent costs associated with it have not been provided yet", - said Sergey Yushin.
The press service of the National Meat Association also commented on the situation with the introduction of two systems, and noted that there is no need for two tracking systems – measures taken to combat falsification are enough.
- We believe that there is no need for labeling of finished food products, since there is already a significant set of measures designed to protect the life and health of the consumer. Now "Mercury" fully ensures traceability and safety of products. There are also organizations whose duty is to monitor the quality of products, for example, the Rospotrebnadzor. These organizations carry out a large range of activities and complement them to those provided by “Mercury”, stressed in the organization.
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