Urban Dynamics

Future Foods Update | January 2024

Published on 31st Jan 2024

This month's edition includes novel food authorisations in Europe, IP in meat terminology, supply of service contracts, venture capital investment tips, and cultivating talent with employment agreements

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Recent developments

Marketing and authorisations for novel foods in Europe – where are we now?

Novel foods are foods that were not consumed in the UK or EU before 15 May 1997. Many alternative protein products require this authorisation before they can be sold in UK and the EU.

What are the trends in applications being made in the EU and Great Britain, and what are the regulatory challenges around terminology and marketing?
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EU develops position on new genomic techniques

The EU seems to be progressing its own agenda relating to the deregulation of gene editing. The Commission's proposals for a new regulation on plants produced by certain new genomic techniques have been approved by the Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

Its proposals are a little different to the UK proposals, in that they will create two tiers for plants created using new genomic techniques. More limited use of these techniques will be allowed without risk assessment and no consumer labelling. More extensive techniques will require approvals and labelling on products, but apparently this will be accelerated compared to the existing genetically modified organisms regime. Part of the proposals envisage an absolute ban on patents relating to plants created using new genomic techniques.


Longer reads

IP in the use of meat terminology | Is your brand deceptive? Don't fall foul of trade mark law

Brands are prohibited from registering trade marks in the UK and EU where they create a risk of deceiving the average consumer. That deception could be in relation to the nature, quality or geographical origin of the goods or services.

This is becoming an increasingly important issue in relation to alternative food products where a trade mark risks the relevant consumer believing that the goods have characteristics that they do not have. This is because the essential function of a trade mark is to indicate the commercial origin of the goods and services to which it is applied. If the information contained in the mark would deceive the public, it cannot perform this essential function.
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Supply of services – five terms to look out for in UK supplier contracts

Increasing the scale of production from the lab to commercial sale will require negotiating reliable contracts to achieve growth.

Alternative protein products are the result of innovation and research, but translating the product from the lab to the supermarket and millions of people's homes will require collaboration with other parties by way of a contract – whether it is, for instance, to replicate a manufacturing process on a commercial scale, distribute products to new geographic areas, or provide quality assurance.
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Venture capital develops a taste for investment in alternative proteins

Venture capital financing can offer future foods start-ups the ingredients needed to secure growth and development in a competitive market.

The venture capital community is showing an increasingly strong appetite for investment into the sector. The Good Food Institute, a non-profit think tank and international network of organisations working to accelerate alternative protein innovation, estimated that more than $14.6bn has been invested into the alternative proteins sector over the past decade. What are the "need to knows" of venture capital and how could it benefit future foods businesses?
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Cultivating talent: legal ingredients for employment agreements in the UK

What are the main considerations a future foods business should consider when establishing employment contracts for its founders and early employees?

In the evolving landscape of the future foods alternative proteins industry, where innovation meets sustainability, establishing robust employment contracts is a vital ingredient for success. From visionary founders, to the early team members and beyond, employment contracts serve as the framework for building a thriving workforce.
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If you have any questions about any of the issues raised in this newsletter, please reach out to one of the team.

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* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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