French veggie brand renames steaks ‘stêques’ to bypass new laws

It comes after a recent ban on vegetarian brands using words associated with traditional meat products

Vegetarian products already need to be placed in a separate aisle from their meat counterparts
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A French start-up specialising in meat-free alternatives is using creative spellings to bypass new naming rules put in place by the government.

Its new product names include ‘boulaites’ (boulettes, meatballs), ’neugâtes’ (nuggets) and ‘stêques’ (steaks).

A decree on February 27 banned meat substitute products from using ‘butchery’ terms such as sausage or merguez.

This was passed after pressure from farmers and butchers, who claimed the use of these terms for non-meat products may be confusing and misleading for consumers.

In addition, some said these companies were trying to dupe people into buying vegetarian alternatives unintentionally, believing the products contain meat.

This argument is also the reason why some meat-alternative products must be placed on separate supermarket shelves away from the meat aisle.

Read more: Shoppers in France eating meat less regularly, reveals survey

Mis-spelt meats are a hit

Accro, which makes vegetarian alternatives to traditional meat ingredients, quickly launched a new advertising campaign after the changes.

It included new branding for some of their most popular products impacted by the rules, which are intentionally mis-spelt.

A social media post for some of the new packaging can be seen below.

Thousands of people have liked posts from the company on Instagram, which also asked for an alternative for ‘merguez’, a popular spicy sausage in France.

Read more: Carrefour France trials a ‘vegan butcher’ product range

French companies ‘targeted’

Despite using the ruling to their advantage for the campaign, Accro and other plant-based companies are unhappy with the changes.

“Being able to describe what a steak or a sausage is is extremely complicated, we're going to have to use long, complex sentences," said CEO of Accro Renaud Saisset to France3.

“The aim is to show people something they know, so they know straight away how to cook it,” he added.

Words like ‘sausage’ and ‘steak’ conveys this information to consumers quickly, as they are already familiar with them, he argued.

“On the packaging it says it is 100% plant-based, made from wheat and peas, so there is no intention to deceive,” he added.

Companies are also angry because the changes only apply to firms based in France – EU products are not affected, and will be able to continue using these words on their packaging.

“We risk losing several tens of thousands of euros per range,” said the CEO, and that because this only applies to French companies, it feels like an attack on “French producers who work with French partners.”

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