Interview of Jean-Benoît S. Robert V-LABEL France and Corporate Relations Manager

Interview of Jean-Benoît S. Robert V-LABEL France and Corporate Relations Manager

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  1. Could you tell us about your position as a V-Label Manager and about the actions of V-Label?

I am specialized in “vegan business”: I help companies veganize their offer, through the certification of their products with the V-Label. There are currently 41,000 products throughout the world certified with the V-Label. We work with Bureau Veritas, which carries out all the audits.

I am also co-founder of the SMMMILE festival – the first vegan festival in France, which brought together 14,000 people for its fourth edition at La Villette in Paris – and of the VEG’CHECK app – to scan and identify vegetarian and vegan products (850,000 products identified).

You gave a speech during our CNE PACK FOCUS conference on November 6th, 2019, about “Environmental claims on packaging: towards a responsible communication”.

  1. What message did you want to convey to the participants?

Major stakeholders in the catering and distribution industries as well as large institutions are massively veganizing their offer, as there is a significant demand from consumers.

The range of products offered to the consumers is undergoing deep changes, whether it be with the compulsory weekly vegetarian meals in school canteens, the “veggie” products of supermarket private labels, the SNCF food offer on French trains which now includes an entire vegan menu, or the major stakeholders in collective catering who offer vegetarian alternatives. It is therefore essential for manufacturers to adapt to this transformation by offering packaging that correspond to and respect this approach.

  1. Marketers are looking into the possibility of using “vegan” packaging. According to you and your certification, which criteria should this type of packaging meet?

The V-Label used to be specifically for food products, but it is now used for cosmetics, restaurant chains and textiles. Vegan packaging is the logical continuation of our efforts.  Moreover, 100% plant-based packaging is an obvious choice for today’s consumers, as opposed to the cultural attachment to animal products people might have for food (meat, dairy products). A packaging without animal components must be part of a global approach directly linked to ethics, the environment and health.

  1. What did you think of the conference (topics addressed, new information, relation with the participants, etc.)?

The conference addressed various interesting topics. Beyond the quality of the different interventions, I greatly appreciated the attention and the discussions with all the participants. I was personally able to learn a lot about packaging and how to reduce its environmental impact.

I also had the opportunity to exchange with other participants I am in contact with.

  1. What are the topics V-Label considers as priorities, which the CNE could work on during work groups or other types of communication events (informative sessions, etc.)?

It would be interesting to start thinking about a precise definition of the expression vegan packaging, just like we are working at the European and French levels on an ISO standard for vegetarian and vegan terms for food products. Some important issues need to be addressed, such as: should the whole production chain of the packaging be taken into account or only the components of the packaging? Does vegan packaging necessarily have to be less environmentally harmful than conventional packaging?

The other important topic for V-LABEL is the constant research work we carry out on the market and its evolution. We are always on the lookout for new innovations and support all companies and institutions that wish to learn more about this general trend.

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