Monthly Archives: July 2014

Food labeling and packaging watch – expect some important changes.

Food labeling and packaging will continue to be highly scrutinized throughout 2014 as the FDA comes to terms with the Food Safety and Modernization Act. The growing consumer interest in food labels, ingredients, and claims will also drive packaging changes. Food marketers need to closely monitor these trends with respect to possible changes to their product formulations and packaging:

GMOs: A growing number of consumers seem to be focused on this issue and some food producers are beginning to respond on their own. In a high profile example, General Mills original Cheerios packaging now carries a “Not Made With Genetically Modified Ingredients” statement, and other large food marketers are considering similar moves to distance themselves from GMOs. No matter what perspective a food producer may have on the GMO topic, it is a trend they need to pay attention to.

Natural: It seems that everyone, food consumers and producers alike, want a clear definition of this term so that the playing field is leveled on this one. As class-action lawsuits abound regarding this claim, there has been a constant volley between the courts and the FDA over who should define this term. The FDA has certainly been reluctant to expand on its current natural statement, and for that reason food marketers need to carefully monitor this issue.

Nutrition Facts: Consumers have been vocal about wanting nutritional information “front and center” on packaging. In 2011, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) jointly initiated Facts Up Front, and the GMA has indicated that approximately 80% of products from participating manufacturers will adopt Facts Up Front by the end of 2014. Whether this system or some other proposal for “front and center” nutrition facts is pursued, food marketers need to stay on top of this trend.

Food Label Dates: This issue is receiving attention from many quarters. The National Resource Defense Council has focused on food label dates from the perspective of food waste. Consumers simply want to know how long a food product is safe to consume. Although the FDA and the USDA regulate food label dates, they don’t define any date terms, leaving that task to individual States. With all the attention food waste is currently receiving, food marketers can surely expect some changes with respect to label dates.

For food marketers, packaging is an important marketing tool that can make or break consumer purchase decisions at the shelf level. The trends everyone in the industry is following could result in some mandated changes, but savvy food marketers may want to be proactive and make some changes on their own right now to stay ahead of the curve.

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