It has added a premium cachet to bakery products for decades, but the term ’Belgian chocolate’ could be compromised by proposed EU country-of-origin labelling (COOL) regulations.
Last month, a European Parliament Environment Committee voted to extend COOL to cover the ingredients of specified origin chocolate, such as Swiss and Belgian, so that products would have to carry the source of the cocoa beans. In practice, this could mean the term ’Belgian chocolate’ would have to be qualified with an unwieldy statement such as "made with cocoa beans from Ghana, Ivory Coast and Brazil".
The Food & Drink Federation (FDF) is lobbying against the proposal, ahead of the European Council’s final decision in the autumn. "Applying COOL to chocolate ingredients is unworkable, as they are sourced globally," said Martin Turton, manager of the FDF’s Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate & Confectionery sector group.
Mike Woods, MD of nut-free cake producer Just Love Food Company, which uses Belgian chocolate in several products, said the proposed legislation was a step too far. "Consumers definitely prefer products made with Belgian chocolate over those labelled just ’chocolate’. They want to know the chocolate has been blended by a Belgian chocolatier, not where every single ingredient has come from. That level of detail is just not relevant. More labelling is likely to put people off and make it confusing."