Made in Britain labels to become compulsory?

EU Parliament votes for country of original labelling to become mandatory on all non-food products

Made in Britain label
Made in Britain labelling to become compulsory?

Members of the European Parliament have today voted for all EU countries to label the products that they sell with a country of origin label. The move has come about in an attempt to ensure that goods sold on the European market are compliant with its safety rules and quality guidelines. The new ruling has divided Parliament, with the Italians and Spanish voting for the new ruling, whilst the Germans and British voted against. The latter claiming that such a move would create unnecessary paperwork for businesses.

The topic of compulsory country of origin labelling was something that I raised on this website last year, and whilst I am very much in favour of seeing a Made in Britain label on as much product as possible, there was some confusion over how the country of origin would be defined. Suggestions had been that it would be the most expensive portion of the cost price that would define the products origins, meaning that a classic item of British manufacturing, such as a Rolls Royce car, could no longer be defined as Made in Britain because many of its components are imported.

However, according to the announcement from Eurpoean Parliament today, goods produced in more than one place, or where raw materials come from abroad, the country of origin would be that where it underwent ‘the last substantial, economically justified processing’ resulting in a ‘new product’ or representing ‘an important stage of manufacture’ as defined in the EU Customs Code. This is very much in line with the guidelines that the Made in Britain Campaign follow when deciding whether to grant the use of the Made in Britain logo to manufacturers, something that was originally defined by the Trade Descriptions Act in 1968.

How this new law will be enforced, and how widely it will be adopted by businesses, remains to be seen – but surely anything that helps consumers to know what they are buying, and by whom it was made, has got to be a good thing?

42 thoughts on “Made in Britain labels to become compulsory?”

  1. Great to be treated as an adult by the Spanith and Italian MEPs, if not the British ones.

    Someone from an Italinan footwear associaion* seems to be making arguments that could apply just as well in the UK. I’m not sure quite what he’s arguing, but it could be that …
    ? an educated but loyal home market in any country as a good thing in itself, if consumers want to buy good “Made in Italy” products, and
    ? an educated but loyal home market sustains the brand and its quality sold abroad.

    “For an industry that exports more than 83% of its production, the domestic demand may appear
    superfluous. In fact without a qualified domestic demand, one of the key elements that have contributed to the success of the made in Italy abroad will end up being lost”

    “We risk paying the myopic vision of those who think they can sustain consumption by commercializing products made by others. If after all these years we are still not able to approve a Community regulation on the labelling “made in” means that a strategic vision on the European market is missing. Today, while in the EU countries that see consumption growing, the demand is in the hands of traders/importers who are capitalizing on low-priced and low quality products with
    huge margins and without informing the consumer. “

    *quoted in International Technology, March 2014, temporary url
    Cleto Cleto Sagripanti, Presidente di Assocalzaturifici (associazione dei calzaturieri italiani).

    1. richard ayling

      I agree totally with the above. Cheap far eastern imports are destroying the quality made product base in home markets. Education and all its subtle elements that inform the buying public will be the only thing that helps keep our markets alive. There has to be effort to convert those buyers who value price over every other consideration.

  2. Trotski from muggi.co.uk and Thepodacompany.co.uk, both UK designed and manufactured products. I am 100% behind the made in Britain campaign, it is something this country should be proud of. We have so much manufacturing talent in the UK we just need to start using it again. Shorter lead times, more quality control, faster product to market times must be the way forward if we as a nation are to compete on the world stage. JFDI (just do it)! Or as a friend of mine would say ” look up it’s where it’s at” (Nik Coleman)
    Wishing you all a wonderful day in the great British almost sunny weather, it’s always sunny above the clouds!

    1. I think we do need some moderation in the hatred of the EU. There is some good legislation from the EU and I think the overall ideal of the single market and EU empowerment, is probably the only way the EU and Britain will, in the long term be able to compete against the likes of China. Britain alone will not be able to do it, world trade is just what it says on the tin, world trade.

      Empowering customers to make informed choice is what this is about. It also offers the chance to even the playing field against those importing companies that are only interested in short term financial gain. These imports do so so much damage to our home manufacturing base, that in the long term leaves us in an even weaker and more prone to increased imports flooding home markets.

      Embrace the EU and its aims and work with it. It in no way removes our Britishness – China is doing that so well on its own, while the nation bogs itself down with anti EU sentiment

  3. I agree entirely with JR and Richard’s comments. It is outrageous that this issue has still not been addressed.

  4. I always check where items are made and its so annoying when retailers/manufacturers are unable to say. I just assume its because they are ashamed its made in a slave labour state like China so I then boycott their product. Responses like “we don’t know” just don’t wash as I doubt HM Customs allow traders off with that excuse as they import their products.


    I think this is a must, I recently purchased a Sunspel Riviera Polo shirt, I assumed it was made in Long Eaton, as I have considered them a British manufacturer, and I like the thought of this and the style.
    Very disappointed to discover it was made in Turkey, doubly disappointing as Sunspel speak about British heritage……..sticking with John Smedley in the future!

    1. Robert I could’nt agree more, I used to buy Sunspel clothing when it was made in their Long Eaton factory and was happy to pay a premium for top quality clothing made by people living in my community. However, like you I was very disappointed to recently find most Sunspel tees are now made in Turkey and imported. I dont see why I should pay a very high premium price for clothing made cheaply in Turkey that could be made here in UK to equivalent standards for the same price. Like you I will carry on going to a real British manufacturer like John Smedley.

  6. I agree entirely with the comments of Richards and others. This legislation is long overdue and its an outrage that it was resisted by the UK and German governments. As consumers we have a right to know the origin and provenance of the products we are offered. I want to be able to an informed choice based not just on price but on quality and most importantly moral issues. I dont see why we should be supporting the owners and shareholders of overseas industries that keep their employees in penury and appalling dangerous working conditions(Rana Plaza and many more) that would never be tolerated in the EU whilst at the same time contributing to huge environmental damage.

    1. Here’s a question – how do we make the uk public want to buy British, when price or iconic name is the only factor in a purchasing decision? Last evening on tv I heard that uk manufacturing is now only responsible for delivering 10% of the UK tax take when 20 years ago it provided around 30%.

      Building pride back up in things British seems such an important issue in this, but does it have to come at the expense of being ultra right wing. Without wishing to bring up politics, I fear that if we become too nationalistic without recognizing the importance of our European markets, we could do more damage.

      1. On the same program, Digby Jones mentioned “industry which pays for our health service and welfare state”, or some phrase like that.

        I think it’s a great sales point that UK goods are made with more taxes paid towards a welfare state, while Chinese goods are made with no taxes paid towards hospitals, pensions, democracy, or paid judges. I hope things are getting better in China, but the point is that goods from cheap countries are partly cheaper because of cheapskate government, and that’s bad for both sides – Chinese and UK.

  7. Hopefully the companies trading on their “brutishness” may be convinced to bring back their production to the UK! Welcome back Burberry’s, Kath Kidson etal

  8. I am in favour of the new laws. I know that the sort of people we meet at craft shows are looking for a ‘Made in Britain’ label but I really do think that more and more people are genuinely interested in supporting the home manufacturers. Our problem is that we have been approached by retail outlets who want us to supply at import prices which we just cant do! I hope consumers will gradually be happier to pay a little bit more for made in Britain. We have a lot to offer in this country by way of our creativity and innovation, lets see it in the high street!

    1. It is discouraging though Valerie, when trying to launch a product on the likes of ‘not on the high street’ it is turned down for inclusion, when a like for like product that I know is imported, is being traded by several firms on the same marketing site at a higher price and marketed as British made. When you are able to offer that product for less money than the imported one and important selling portals like the above mentioned still do not carry it, it begs the question – just what have you got to do?

      1. ” marketed as British made” but actually imported? Well report them to Trading Standards and the site owners. Mind you, some Trading Standards seem to consider such misdescriptions of minor importance. Also, the ASA may take an interest? Good luck.

  9. Loved this post. Bringing manufacturing back to Britain is the only way we are going to save our economy. I support anyone who tries to start their own business in Britain and wish them every success!

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