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.
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 was developed for application in domestic markets but has 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.
Informing consumers in the duty-free and travel retail channel in the digital age
This duty free and travel retail channel 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 fully supports the principle that consumers should have access to relevant and meaningful information on the products they wish to purchase and consume. ETRC has been working for many years to find a pragmatic solution to providing consumers with product information in a way that meets both the requirements of the regulators and the specificities of our unique consumer, the international traveller.
ETRC argues that digital labelling through which mandatory information can be provided in a consumer-friendly format is the optimum solution to comply fully with regulatory requirements, while enabling our channel to continue to thrive and propose iconic products targeting an international audience.
ETRC DIGITAL LABELLING PLATFORM: THE CREATION OF ‘DUTY FREE LABEL’
Building on the success of a pilot project in 2018, ETRC and TFWA supported in 2020 the launch of a two-year project with 15+ suppliers with the objective to build a fully functional digital labelling platform, called ‘Duty Free Label’. Duty Free Label was intended to provide product information in multiple languages, which can be accessed when the barcode on the packaging is scanned via a smartphone or in-store scanners. The project is currently being reviewed to ensure it fits the needs of ETRC members and consumers in Travel Retail.
As part of this project, ETRC also conducted an online consumer survey of over 1000+ EU consumers who tested the usability of the platform. The survey provided overwhelmingly positive results, with 88% of respondents being satisfied with the platform, 85% of travellers considering the platform to be easy to use, and 74% considering themselves to be more likely to use digital labels compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over 10 years after the adoption of the “FIC Regulation” which foresaw that “Food information rules should be able to adapt to a rapidly changing social, economic and technological environment” (recital 51), ETRC believes our project and similar initiatives provide an opportunity to implement efficient and relevant solutions for the digital age.
ETRC urges policy-makers to enact legislation to formally allow for product information to be provided by means other than on the package or on the label to better inform consumers in the digital age.