The list of products and goods that will be targeted by new tariffs imposed on E.U. goods by President Donald Trump runs some 20 pages. Included are some items that could have a huge impact on the perimeter of the supermarket.

From dairy products and wine to seafood and fresh fruit, the ramifications of the 25% tariffs could prove highly consequential to fresh food departments — enough so that the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association is speaking out.

IDDBA, which serves the retail grocery industry through connecting buyers and sellers of products, serves as a year-round educational resource and advocates for the continued growth of the dairy, deli and bakery business segments within the grocery retail space.

“We closely monitor events and happenings that impact how our membership base goes to market, conducts business and ultimately impacts them as our consumer and the end consumer they serve,” the association says. “We are passionate about cheese. We support the Specialty Foods Industry. We are lovers of specialty cheese. We are concerned about the long-term sales, operational and job impacts the upcoming tariffs (if imposed) on many cheese products may have for our member companies, the industry and the retail grocery consumer. For example, consumers should expect to see the price per pound of their favorite imported cheese to double.”

IDDBA says it remains vigilant as it advocates for the industry. In the ever-changing, fast-paced industry, IDDBA says retailers and suppliers must work together to grow profitable sales, while providing the consumer base the products they want at a reasonable price that allows them to create and enjoy the experience right for their family and life.  

IDDBA worked with the Cheese Importers Association of America to distribute an online petition against the imposition of cheese tariffs.

FMI, others urge passage of U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Food Marketing Institute President and CEO Leslie Sarasin joined 18 other association leaders of the retail, agriculture, automotive, and services industries in urging the U.S. Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted the joint press conference emphasizing how the Agreement is critical to our economic future, giving certainty to businesses, workers and consumers.

The agreement between the three nations — which was negotiated to replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement — has been signed but has yet to be ratified.  It was signed by President Donald Trump, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in November 2018. It greatly affects the dairy, egg and poultry markets, among others.

The ratification process has been affected by growing objections within member states about U.S. trade policy and various aspects of the USMCA. Currently, the agreement is awaiting a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Sarasin said in her remarks, “Thanks in part to our expanded trade with Mexico and Canada, our U.S. produce departments have been transformed over the past 30 years. FMI members are now able to offer safe, high quality and affordable fruits and vegetables year-round and not just during the limited U.S. growing seasons. U.S. grocery shoppers can wander the produce section in January and find groceries that allow them to eat like it’s a June day. This transformation has taken place at the same time as new markets have opened and expanded for U.S. growers; so much so, that the United States food and agriculture economy now supports more than 45 million jobs and $152 billion in exports every year.”

Sarasin expressed pride in joining industry groups to support U.S. jobs and enable food retailers to keep feeding families and enriching the lives of American consumers. She said, “The [U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement] maintains and secures the existing supply chain, resulting in continued growth in U.S. food and beverage exports and strengthens our food safety efforts.”

GMA calls for federal CBD regulation

The Grocery Manufacturers Association is campaigning for federal regulation and oversight in the cannabidiol (CBD) market. While sales of CBD products are expected to more than double in the years ahead, hitting $6 billion by 2025, new research from the trade association suggests consumers still aren’t sure what CBD is, what it does or whether it is safe.

One in three Americans use CBD. Most of them believe it is subject to federal regulations and safety oversight, according to GMA research. Upon learning that the industry operates within a state-by-state patchwork system of regulations, 82% of consumers expressed alarm, and more than two thirds said they are “extremely” or “very” concerned. Another 84% said they are worried about the varying regulations that could result from the current patchwork system.

“It is the role of federal agencies to ensure a safe and transparent consumer marketplace — but the CBD market is currently the wild west,” says Geoff Freeman, president and chief executive officer of the GMA. “Without a uniform federal regulatory framework in place, consumers lack the basic information they need to make informed decisions about CBD GMA will build a broad-based coalition to lead an aggressive campaign to protect consumers by advancing regulatory clarity.”

GMA’s research shows confusion is rampant, even among the 60% of consumers who said they are familiar with the ingredient. Close to 40% mistakenly assume CBD is another name for marijuana. More than half think it is psychoactive.

Misunderstanding is particularly high among millennials, who are more likely than other groups to purchase CBD products. Close to half of millennials thought CBD is intoxicating, and 30% said they purchased a C.B.D. product because they thought it would give them a high. Only 4% of boomers bought CBD for the same reason.

Boomers were far less likely to purchase CBD products (15%, compared to 54% of millennials) and more likely to know it is not psychoactive. They also tend to be more skeptical. Forty-six percent of boomers said they think CBD is safe, more than a quarter said they aren’t sure, and 17% said it depends on the manufacturer or the seller. In contrast, 79% of millennials said CBD is safe, 9% said they were not sure, and 6% said it depends.


Helping retailers understand the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard

The food retail industry often discusses how shoppers crave customization, personalization and digital shopping experiences from their grocers. Consumers want more information about the food they buy, including more about the ingredients in their foods and the disclosure of certain attributes like those derived from bioengineering. 

As a trusted ally to shoppers, food retailers want to provide easily accessible information whenever possible to customers as well as additional information they may be interested in. The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) established a new standard for disclosure of information to consumers about the BE status of foods. 

FMI worked alongside industry partners to create a compliance guide to help retailers and product suppliers understand and comply with the NBFDS.  The NBFDS was enacted on July 29, 2016, and establishes a uniform approach to the disclosure of bioengineered (BE) foods. Congress passed this law in response to a growing patchwork of state and local requirements, which would have prevented the food industry from using a single product label for national distribution. The 2016 law required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct rulemaking to establish a standard requiring disclosure of certain bioengineered foods. USDA’s final rule, which was published in December of 2018, establishes an “implementation date” of January 1, 2020, a voluntary compliance period until December 31, 2021, and a mandatory compliance date of January 1, 2022 (for regulated entities other than small businesses). 

Although the rule is clear in some respects, certain questions remain making it somewhat difficult for member companies to begin the compliance process early. FMI has continued to meet with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) staff to address areas needing clarity, such as which foods are covered under the retail exemption, issues regarding digital disclosure, etc. Although the Agency has updated its website Q and A in some areas, staff has hinted that AMS may release more formal guidance soon. FMI will update its compliance guide as the Agency further clarifies any issues, and plan to continue our dialogue regarding issues that retailers and suppliers are facing as they work towards compliance.  

  • Dana Graber, regulatory counsel, Food Marketing Institute


Extension granted on labeling compliance

The Food and Drug Administration will not focus on enforcement actions for six months after a new Nutrition Facts Label goes into effect on Jan. 1. Instead, during the first six months of 2020, the FDA will work with manufacturers to meet the new Nutrition Facts Label requirements.

The FDA said it heard from several manufacturers and groups that more time may be needed to meet all the requirements. The Food & Beverage Issue Alliance listed problems with meeting the new requirements in a Sept. 30 letter to the FDA Thirteen industry groups made up the alliance.

The letter requested a six-month delay and listed three main reasons why companies would have a difficult time meeting the Jan. 1 date for labeling compliance for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual sales.

First, updating all the labels involves considerable time, planning resources and complexity. New labels must be designed. Plates must be made, and scheduling must be made with the printing company. Software vendors, ingredient suppliers, graphic designers and printing companies all are involved in the process.

Second, many companies would have had existing label inventory that would have gone unused by the Jan. 1 compliance date. Disposing of the labels in landfills would have involved cost and would have impacted the environment.

Third, the six-month delay will not result in the use of false or misleading labels, according to the letter. Instead, it will involve the continued use of labels for a short period of time that comply with nutrition labeling rules that have been in effect for more than 20 years.

“The baking industry has always been transparent with its customers and consumers,” says Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the Washington-based American Bakers Association. “Product labeling is an important component to helping customers and consumers to make informed choices about the products they buy to feed their families. A.B.A. is pleased our members will be given more flexibility in order to meet the new labeling requirements.”

Besides the ABA., other members of the Food & Beverage Issue Alliance include the American Frozen Food Institute, the American Herbal Products Association, the Corn Refiners Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the Food Marketing Institute, the Independent Bakers Association, the International Dairy Foods Association, the National Automatic Merchandising Association, the National Confectioners Association, the National Grocers Association, the Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association, and SNAC International.

The FDA finalized the new Nutrition Facts Label on May 27, 2016. Major changes include an increase in the type size for calories, the mandatory declaration of vitamin D and potassium, and the mandatory listing of added sugars. Compliance dates originally were July 26, 2018, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales and July 26, 2019, for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales. The dates later were extended to Jan. 1, 2020, and Jan. 1, 2021.

The Sept. 30, 2019, letter from the Food & Beverage Issue Alliance requested the FDA. provide similar flexibility to the manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual sales as they also will face challenges in achieving 100% compliance by Jan. 1, 2021. The FDA’s recent decision, however, only applies to the Jan 1, 2020, compliance date, which is for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual sales.