Clear Labeling: How to Respond to Nutrition-Conscious Consumers

Based on updated science, the FDA is working to implement clear labeling standards to increase focus on health, transparency, and certainly consumer education. Bringing forward the idea that nutritional information needs to be easier to understand, we’ve reached out to clients across our network to get a sense of how companies are thinking about the new regulations.

In SGK’s recent BrandSquare webinar, Michael Leeds and Bruce Levinson share with you what those thoughts and actions are, particularly since they cover a number of important perspectives regarding the brand owner, supply chain, regulatory issues, and that of the consumer.

Watch the entire webinar here: Off the Starting Block: Making the Most of the New FDA Regulations  

While the compliance date is set for July 26th 2018 for companies with over $10M of revenue per year or more, there is still a little more clarification needed to be around the meaning of compliance. Whether that be on the shelf or in the supply chain brands must understand what exactly the FDA means as it enters interstate commerce.

This initiative will touch over 700,000 SKUs and may affect design in the following ways:

  • Labeling

  • Formulation

  • Packaging

  • Brand positioning

The new callouts include added sugar, and revised definitions related to the way dietary fiber is calculated. In short, there are quite a few changes whose impact on the nutrition label will certainly influence a number of other areas to both marketers and consumers. These changes will ultimately appear on the front of pack or on the principle display panel (PDP).

So, what’s going on with the FDA and its rationale?

This initiative is really the first large set since the NLEA was introduced 20 years ago, and since then the rules have only modestly been tweaked. The update helps to assist consumers make more informed choices about their food consumption.

“If folks have the opportunity to make more informed food decisions, it should have not only a positive impact on health and wellbeing, but also an overall cost deduction in heath care. That’s exactly how it was justified to congress in the economic evaluation of the rules,” says Leeds.

READ: The FDA Nutrition Label Update Is Your Opportunity to Gain a Competitive Brand Advantage  

As companies look at the initiative and look though their SKUs, they ought to be considering the annual cadence of the portfolio touches and budget their time, their resources, and their funds accordingly.

Companies are first trying to understand what the requisite nutritional data is, therefore asking their food scientists to go through and in essence rerun the numbers. They will be looking at dietary fiber, vitamin D, and added sugars in the product, so that the marketers can really assess if any other changes need to be made which should be considered in the planning process.

Based on what we’ve seen in the past, there will be more tweaks and adjustments being brought forward as companies ask for additional guidance. Our advice? Expect the unexpected. There are going to be some categories that are likely to see enormous changes, whether it’s related to vitamin D, dietary fiber, added sugar, or portions sizes — these can easily be considered opportunities as well.

Look for an ability to maintain agility, some flexibility, and the ability to pivot within your supply chain. Get forward-looking on the information, and at the same time consider how technologies, processes, and initiatives, such as the SmartLabel initiative, or what Digimarc can contribute to the change. This can help plan your solution set, as you invest now, and can certainly set up the brand and the package for long-term viable success.

“The one thing that money can’t buy is time, as we know, and time is going to be of the essence,” says Leeds.

Timing matters, so beyond all of the supply chain logistics and budgeting constraints, the timing of when you go out will influence some of the consumer perceptions. If you’re late to the game, what does that say about your brand?

The race to compliance and competitive advantage is underway! For more information on the FDA label update, visit Schawk’s Label Central hub — assess your preparedness and read up on current resources regarding the regulations.