Marketing standards

Following the end of the transition period, EU food law, including marketing standards, will continue to apply to all food produced and marketed in Northern Ireland. EU marketing standards (MS) are set out primarily in Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013, commonly referred to as the Common Market Organisation Regulation, and associated delegated and implementing regulations.

Post transition, the EU will consider GB as a Third Country. Consequently, Northern Ireland will be required to apply Marketing Standards checks at NI POEs as set out in the Compliance Protocol.

It should be noted that GB marketing standards will remain aligned with EU standards on Day 1 and all products on the GB market (whether domestically produced or imported) must comply with those marketing standards.

On 1 January 2021, these checks will be delivered in a way that enables goods and products to move as seamlessly as possible through NI Points of Entry (PoEs), avoiding any unnecessary delay.

What are marketing standards?

European Union marketing standards for agri-food products establish definitions, minimum product standards, production methods, sales descriptions, product categories and labelling requirements. They apply at all stages of the marketing chain and are intended to protect consumers and to facilitate the trade of applicable goods on the single market. Products subject to marketing standards regulations include fruit and vegetables, hops, wine, beef and veal, eggs in shell, hatching eggs and chicks, olive oil, poultrymeat and milk and spreadable fats.

DAERA are responsible for marketing standards in Northern Ireland, except milk and spreadable fats, which are the responsibility of The Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland.

How will marketing standards change after the end of the transition period?

Following the end of the transition period, EU food law, including marketing standards, will continue to apply to all food produced and marketed in Northern Ireland.

For the movement of products subject to marketing standards:

  • There will be no new marketing standards requirements for products moving from Northern Ireland to GB.
  • There will be no new marketing standards requirements for products moving from Northern Ireland to the EU, and vice versa.
  • Agri-food products moving from GB to NI must continue to meet EU marketing standards regulations and may be subject to new certification or checking requirements at the point of entry. Further detail will be published here in due course.

Details on where you can find guidance for individual commodities subject to marketing standards will also be published here in due course.

Where can I find more information?

For more information about moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021, please read the UK government guidance published at:

How UK food and drink producers, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers must change labels from 1 January 202:

Anyone exporting or importing any products subject to marketing standards from or to the UK should refer to UK government guidance published at:

Food Standards Agency guidance on the health and identification marks that must be applied to food products of animal origin (POAO) from 1 January 2021:

For more information and advice, read Gov.uk - Brexit Transition: How Northern Ireland Businesses and Citizens Can Prepare Now

Q&As - Hops

What will hop importers need to do to be compliant going forward in 2021?

Hops and hops products moving from GB to NI must comply with EU third country import requirements from 1 January 2021. Each consignment must be accompanied by an EU Attestation of Equivalence (AoE) issued by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).  Traders must register with the RPA to apply for an EU Attestation of Equivalence. Link below.

Do hops and hop products travelling from GB to NI require accompanying certificates?

As a result of the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol, food placed on the market in Northern Ireland (NI) must continue to comply with EU food law. Agri-food products from Great Britain (GB) to NI are considered third country imports into the EU. Under EU agri-food law, DAERA has obligations relating to checks on imports of goods from GB (third country) in relation to marketing standards checks and documentation.

The EU hops legislation (Reg EC 1295/2008) is specifically mentioned in Annex 2 (Para 31) of the Protocol.

Hops and hops products moving from GB to NI must comply with EU third country import requirements and each consignment must be accompanied by an EU Attestation of Equivalence (AoE) issued by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).

The GB trader is required to attach the original AoE and two copies to the consignment for shipping, and include a copy of the AoE with the consignment’s pre-notified electronic documentation. HMRC will check at the point of entry in Northern Ireland to ensure that consignments are accompanied by an electronic copy of the AoE, prior to its release into free circulation. Once they receive the consignment, the NI importer is required to forward the original AoE and two copies to HMRC. HMRC will send an endorsed copy of the AoE to DAERA, and return a copy to the importer.

It should be noted that, as EU Regulation 1295/2008 requires that the AoE is completed by an authorised agency in the third country of origin of the hops, the RPA can only issue AoEs for hops or hops products that are grown or processed in GB. The RPA cannot issue AoEs for hops or hops products originating from the EU or third countries. As a result, EU or third country hops and hops products imported into GB cannot currently be re-exported to NI. Should this position change, this page will be updated accordingly.

For up to date guidance please see Gov.uk - Hops and hops products marketing standards from 1 January 2021.

Q&As - Eggs

What stamps are needed for eggs exported to the EU and ROW from both GB and NI from 1st January?

Regulation EC 589/2008

As a result of the Ireland /Northern Ireland Protocol, after the end of the Transition Period, food placed on the market in Northern Ireland (NI) must comply with EU food law.  Food from Great Britain (GB) to NI will be considered a third country import into the EU. Under EU agri-food law, DAERA will have obligations relating to checks on imports of goods from GB (third country) in relation to marketing standards checks.

Marketing Standards Legislation (EC 1308/2013) is included in Annex II of the Protocol.

The existing distinguishing numeric code formulation used for the marking of eggs, packs of eggs and hatching eggs to identify NI producer and packing centre for table eggs and hatching eggs is compliant with Article 7(2) of the Northern Ireland Protocol, and can continue to be used after the end of the transition period, (E.g. 1/2/3 – egg type/ UK9/ XXX establishment number).  The producer code, UK9, issued to NI establishments is the numeric reference to Northern Ireland which satisfies the criteria laid down in Article 7(2) of the NI Protocol therefore no changes are required to the current stamps.

Eggs exported from NI – EU and ROW

There will be no change to the marketing standards requirements for exporting eggs to the EU from Northern Ireland after the end of the transition period

Eggs exported GB – EU and ROW

UKG has issued guidance on this point. If you export eggs from GB to the EU from 1 January 2021 you should prepare for the third country import requirements in the EU marketing standards regulations.

The UK has applied to the EU to carry out an assessment called an ‘evaluation of equivalence’ for egg marketing standards, this will allow exports of eggs from GB to the EU on the basis of equivalence.  Further guidance on egg marking requirements will be published when the ‘equivalence’ decision has been made by the Commission.

For further information please see Gov.uk - Egg marketing standards from 1 January 2021.

What impact will the Ireland / Northern Ireland protocol have on egg packing stations?

As a result of the Ireland /Northern Ireland Protocol, after the end of the Transition Period, food placed on the market in Northern Ireland (NI) must comply with EU food law.  Food from Great Britain (GB) to NI will be considered a third country import into the EU. Under EU agri-food law, DAERA will have obligations relating to checks on imports of goods from GB (third country) in relation to marketing standards checks.

Marketing Standards Legislation (EC 1308/2013) is included in Annex II of the Protocol.

The existing distinguishing numeric code formulation used for the marking of eggs, packs of eggs and hatching eggs to identify NI producer and packing centre for table eggs and hatching eggs is compliant with Article 7(2) of the Northern Ireland Protocol and can continue to be used after the end of the transition period, (E.g. 1/2/3 – egg type/ UK9/ XXX establishment number).  The producer code, UK9, issued to NI establishments is the numeric reference to Northern Ireland which satisfies the criteria laid down in Article 7(2) of the NI Protocol therefore no changes are required to the current stamps.

Regarding the packing code, the existing references meet the requirements under article 5(2) of Regulation EC 589/2008, therefore no changes are required. 

There will be no change to the marketing standards requirements for exporting eggs to the EU from Northern Ireland.

For further information please see Gov.uk - Egg marketing standards from 1 January 2021.

Q&As - Fruit & vegetables

Will marketing standards ‘Certificates of Conformity’ (CoCs) be needed for fruit and vegetables moving from GB to NI from 1 January 2021?

Under EU legislation, DAERA will apply a risk-based approach to controls on fruit and vegetables from Great Britain at points of entry in Northern Ireland. In line with the very low risk posed by GB goods, there will be no requirement for consignments to be accompanied by a CoC from 1 January 2021, but DAERA will monitor the position closely. If any fruit and vegetable products are later deemed to be high risk, GB-based traders should request Defra to provide a CoC to accompany the consignment. This guidance will be updated if the position changes.

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