Of note | Leatherhead Food Research

of note – Lifting the hood on harmonization

With food and beverage brands under ever increasing pressure to boost shareholder value, operational efficiency is moving up the agenda. For multinational companies, harmonizing product formulations and packaging across different territories can play an important role. It enables delivery of new and existing products to wider audiences more quickly and cost efficiently. But this is not an easy task. Simply ‘data sheeting’ regulatory differences between countries doesn’t go far enough. The situation demands a multifaceted response, with human input to rationalize decisions and offer a considered view of grey or contradictory areas.

The harmonization challenge

The global regulatory landscape is highly diverse. While sector and country-specific requirements are generally drafted with harmonization in mind, many factors can influence how the finer points are interpreted. So, even in markets such as the EU and the South American trading bloc Mercosur, where full inter-country alignment might be expected, discrepancies do exist. There may be apparent harmonization at a headline level, but specific requirements often vary country by country. These differences can be rooted in cultural, economic, environmental or historical factors. And they cannot be taken for granted.

The EU’s ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ framework for food and beverage legislation highlights this lack of commonality...

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