Three European dairy groups are urging the EU to block companies producing plant-based dairy alternatives from using words associated with dairy products – such as ‘milk’ and ‘butter’ – in their marketing.

The European Dairy Association (EDA), Eucolait and Copa-Cogeca were asking the EU to protect dairy products from “misleading sales descriptions” in legislation and the European Common Agricultural Policy, wrote just-food on 27 April.

“The European Court of Justice recently issued a ruling that states that the terms milk, whey, cream, butter, buttermilk, cheese and yogurt may not be used to describe a plant-based product,” said Pekka Pesonen, Copa-Cogeca secretary general.

“The issue is not about having plant-based innovative produce on the market, it is about ensuring that consumers are not misled or confused vis-à-vis the nutritional characteristics of livestock produce and plant-based produce,” he added.

EDA secretary general Alexander Anton agreed, saying that it was misleading to market products as, for example, soya milk or tofu butter when they were “absolutely different” from dairy products with differing nutritional characteristics, including macro- and micronutrients.

The three bodies were calling for the EU to protect dairy terms and marketing standards in its legislation and to ensure that they were respected throughout the supply chain.