Veggie Victory: Johannesburg High Court Sets Aside Decision to Seize Plant-Based Analogue Products

By: ProVeg on 10 April 2024

Veggie Victory: Johannesburg High Court Sets Aside Decision to Seize Plant-Based Analogue Products

On the heels of the temporary 2022 court interdict to forestall and prevent the seizure of plant-based meat alternatives from South African retail shelves comes a new ruling today by the Johannesburg High Court to overturn the decision, keeping these products permanently available to South African consumers despite ongoing disputations on labelling practices. 

Over the past two years controversy has swirled in supermarkets as the the South African government sought to ban the use of certain product names for plant-based meat alternatives on the basis that they were too similar to the names of processed meat products, supposedly misleading shoppers. Previously the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa [CGCSA] was forced to urgently seek an interdict to stop the assignee the Food Safety Agency [FSA] from seizing meat analogue products from the shelves of retailers around the country, which it successfully did pending the outcome of the review of the decision, which has now at last been determined. 

The matter related to the treatment of meat analogue products by the FSA, the Executive officer for Agricultural Product Standards and the Minister of the Department of Land Reform and Rural Development, arising out of the aforementioned naming conventions. The FSA and the Executive Officer sought to prohibit the use of certain generic product names for meat analogue products, which are often similar to and congruent with the product names of certain processed meat products (such as ‘nugget’, ‘burger’, 'patty' and ‘sausage’) and seize any meat analogue products that make use of these titles or classifications.

The CGCSA successfully, with the assistance of its attorney, Lauren Fine of Clyde and Co, reviewed and set aside the Executive Officer’s directive prohibiting meat analogue products from using labels comparable to those used for processed meat products, and authorising the seizure of any meat analogue products which make use of the congruent naming convention as well as the subsequent decision to seize such products – without a warrant, ostensibly in terms of section 8 of the Agricultural Products Standards Act  119 of 1990. This meant that the meat analogues remained on the shelves in view of future litigation - and after today's findings will now continue to do so.

Welcoming the decision to set aside the Department’s directive, CGCSA says it is a collective victory for the meat analogue sector, which is a growing source for alternative plant based food products, as well as a source of employment throughout the value chain.

Says ProVeg South Africa director, Donovan Will, “ProVeg welcomes this decision by the Johannesburg High Court. We appreciate the efforts by the CGCSA and we hope that this latest development encourages DALRRD to meet with stakeholders in the plant-based space to discuss the issue further.”

“Given the multiple benefits of eating a more plant-rich diet for personal health, the environment, in lowering our carbon emissions and for global food security, ProVeg would love to work with the South African government to better take advantage of plant-based products for the people of our nation. Plant-based meat alternatives is still a young industry and it’s understandable that there is nuance and perhaps some confusion about it. Regulating a new industry can be complicated and challenging particularly as it slots into the food and agriculture sector, but given the undeniable benefits ProVeg sees this as an opportunity to leverage our international expertise and work with businesses and the government to ensure the successful and sensible regulation of these products and grow the industry as a bedrock for healthier alternatives and a job provider,” he continued. 

This disagreement over food product nomenclature is not unique to South Africa and is an issue currently being tabled in the global food industry - notably in France, Italy and Spain -  as lobbyists for traditional meat and other animal products scamper to mount their resistance to the steadily growing market share of the plant-based sector while more consumers adopt plant-rich and flexitarian diets. 

Transitioning to a plant-based diet has proven benefits .There’s a clearly established need for these products and while becoming more numerous and widespread in South Africa, they shouldn’t be denied to willing, informed consumers who consciously select these in stores.


Media Contact

ProVeg South Africa - Wikus Engelbrecht - Communications Manager:; +27 64 172 0120

About ProVeg South Africa:

ProVeg South Africa is the local branch of ProVeg International. ProVeg is an international food awareness organisation working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal-based products with plant-based and cultured alternatives.

ProVeg works with international decision-making bodies, governments, food producers, investors, the media, and the general public to help the world transition to a society and economy that are less dependent on animal agriculture and more sustainable for humans, animals, and the planet.