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PBFIA Advocates Relaxing Plant-Based Milk Labeling Regulations

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India’s Plant Based Foods Industry Association (PBFIA) has called for the easing of labeling restrictions that currently prevent the use of the word “milk” on plant-based product packaging.

Currently, milk alternatives sold in India are required to be labeled with the disclaimer “This is not dairy”, and the use of any dairy terms on their packaging is banned. Speaking at the Plant Based Foods Summit in New Delhi on May 21, Sanjay Sethi, Executive Director, PBFIA, urged the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to reconsider. This would not be unprecedented; in the US, the FDA released draft guidance last year stating that milk alternatives can be called “milk”, in recognition of the fact that this terminology is commonly used by consumers and the vast majority is not confused by it.

Additionally, Sethi called on the FSSAI to engage with the plant-based industry in order to support innovation, particularly for startups that are attempting to compete with large corporations. He suggested that “Plant Protein Cluster” centers should be established across various states, enabling collaboration between startups, the government, and other organizations in the plant-based industry.

FSSAI CEO G Kamala Vardhana Rao also spoke at the event, stating the importance of increasing public awareness of the plant-based industry. He expressed support for the idea of Plant Protein Clusters, and praised the work of the PBFIA and the wider industry.

Earlier this year, a prominent Indian chef reported that plant-based food would be one of the most significant fine dining trends in 2024, as Indians increasingly embrace meatless diets. Veganuary India also stated in December that it was expecting record participation in 2024, after a survey revealed that 59% of Indians were likely to consider a vegan diet in the near future.

Last year, PBFIA published a report indicating that there had been a noticeable increase in plant-based eating in India, with meat and dairy alternatives becoming increasingly available and affordable. However, the organization noted that there are still barriers to widespread adoption, such as higher prices than traditional foods and a lack of infrastructure and supply chains.

“The plant-based foods industry has reached a pivotal moment, standing at a crossroads of tremendous opportunity and responsibility,” said Sethi in 2023. “We must navigate this path with integrity, innovation, and a steadfast commitment to creating a better food system for both the planet and the people.”

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