Written Answers. - Chocolate Exports.

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

231 Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development the details of the EU directive which will allow Irish chocolate to be marketed throughout the EU; if an increase in exports of Irish chocolate can be expected as a result and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8914/00]

The new EU directive on cocoa and chocolate products intended for human consumption sets out definitions, compositional standards and labelling requirements for these products. It will replace the existing Directive 73/241/EEC in this area and represents a simplification of the requirements in order to facilitate the free movement of these products within the Internal Market.

The main features of the new directive are: freedom for all manufacturers within the EU to produce chocolate containing up to 5% non-cocoa butter vegetable fat – six listed fats of tropical origin only are to be permitted, subject to additional labelling to denote the presence of non-cocoa butter vegetable fat; and the continuation of the existing derogation which allows Ireland and the United Kingdom to use on their own territories, the term "milk chocolate" on the product now defined within the new directive as "family milk chocolate".

New market opportunities should be available for Irish chocolate as member states will no longer be able to restrict the free movement within the EU of products covered by the new directive.