ETRC engages to highlight the unique nature of our retail channel and the challenges arising from the increasing demands for the provision of information to consumers.

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Challenges for the duty free and travel retail channel

In Europe and elsewhere in the world, we are now seeing a considerable increase in regional and national product specific legislation being introduced that were developed for application in domestic markets but have significant practical implications for our channel because of the unique conditions under which it operates. These conditions include the multiplicity of languages used by staff and customers, the location of a product’s place of consumption, security requirements and the nature of the supply chain. 

The strict application of EU and national legislation, which were negotiated without the specificities of the our sector in mind, restricts the ability of manufacturers to access this important market. Indeed, such stringent rules act as significant barriers to entry for new products, particularly for SMEs and local producers, inevitably restricting consumer choice even further.

ETRC advocates strongly that regulators consider adapting the application of existing EU and national legislation to the duty free and travel retail channel to take account retrospectively of the international marketplace that is being served, and of the nature and place of final consumption of the goods retailed. In the event of new legislation being put forward, this should at all times include specific rules tailored to the needs of the travel retail channel.

Looking ahead, the development of mobile and in-store technology offers the opportunity to provide access to off-the-product labeling in multiple languages in a way that does not damage our business.

This is being actively pursued as a priority by ETRC as we believe that this could meet the requirements of the regulators whilst meeting the specificities of our unique consumer, the international traveller.  

The FIC Regulation

As of 13 December 2014, Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (the “FIC Regulation”) replaces EU legislations on food labelling and the provision of nutrition information with a single regulation.

Among others provisions, a minimum font size for all mandatory information has been introduced: mandatory particulars shall be printed in characters using a font size that is equal to or greater than 1,2 mm and of 0,9 mm in case of packaging or containers the largest surface of which has an area of less than 80 cm².

The FIC Regulation also specifies that the labelling of food products should be in a language easily understood by the consumers of the Member State where a food is marketed.

The food industry will have two more years to comply with the mandatory nutrition declaration, which will be effective as of 13 December 2016. Producers will be obliged to display a table on food packaging including information on energy, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt - the 'Big 7' -, thereby imposing a major change to food labelling rules in the EU. But producers will still be able to choose where to put this table on their products, as there will be no mandatory front-of-pack labelling.

For more information on the legislation, please visit the dedicated website of the European Commission.


While ETRC worked with the EU institutions during the adoption process of the FIC Regulation to seek support for a specific language regime for food supplies in the duty free and travel retail sector – where ‘gifting’ is a primary motivation for purchasing, this proposal was ultimately rejected, and any reference to language exemptions was removed.

Therefore, the travel retail and duty free market operates according to the same EU and national regulatory policies as applicable to the domestic high street retailer. Member States will carry out official controls in order to enforce compliance with this Regulation and may impose sanctions in accordance with national rules.

However, ETRC members have already identified a number of serious issues arising from this regulation, which does not take account of the unique nature of the duty free and travel retail channel.

This market is made up of a global customer base of internationally diverse travellers, where the consumer may or may not even speak the language of the airport they are travelling through or airline or maritime vessel they are travelling on. Furthermore, many of the confectionery products supplied to this channel are travel retail gifting and/or travel retail exclusives, packaged specifically for this global retail channel and not available on domestic markets.

ETRC continues working with its members and the European Commission to find a pragmatic solution to this issue.