Over the past two decades, Nutritional Labelling on food packaging has become increasingly important from a customer and a consumer perspective. It’s clear that consumer sentiment around improving health coupled with a food industry desire to support that agenda have combined to catalyse change.
There has been increasing global interest in nutritional labelling as a policy tool through which governments can guide consumers to make healthier eating choices. In many ways, the UK and Europe have led that charge.
A differentiated regulation picture between the UK and Europe and within Europe has been splintering between countries for the past decade. This has led to degrees of discord in the way nutritional information has been relayed to the consumer.
Prospects of harmonisation are keenly anticipated, despite challenges. The major issue for (Pan-European) food companies, especially those that operate across the UK and EU, is the chequer board of systems being used in the European Economic Area (EEA).
In Europe, there are several schemes operating in accordance with the Food Information to Consumers Regulations in the EU. These include:
- The Nutri-Score (used in France, Belgium, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands)
- The Traffic Light scheme (UK/Ireland)
- The Keyhole logo (Sweden, Denmark)
- The Choices Logo (Poland, Czech Republic).
Most experts agree that significant and imminent change is coming with legislators now firmly on the front foot. The UK’s High Fat Salt and Sugar (HFSS) scheme will now be likely be law by October 2023.
In Europe, a mandatory scheme in the EU will count as one of the more major changes in the food industry in recent years, one expected by the end of 2022.
European Regulatory Changes
To date in Europe, Front of Pack (FOP) nutrition labelling remains voluntary. However, according to the action plan for the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission will submit a proposal for a harmonised mandatory scheme.
Nutri-Score is one of the preferred options, but some countries are opposed to this scheme arguing that it oversimplifies the nutritious value of products.
Many argue that the co-existence of a range of FOP schemes in the EU market will lead to more market fragmentation and consumer confusion. It’s accepted that mandatory nutrition labelling on the Front of Pack will have a major impact for food manufacturers.
This will likely include the redesign of most food packaging, for all concerned food categories, the reformulation of food products to improve the nutritional score without compromising taste and texture alongside the development of regulatory and technical knowledge.
Snack Manufacturer Opportunity
Certainly, there is opportunity to get ahead of these changes and start to address product and portfolio reformulation now.
The role of product development partners to support the industry cannot be overstated. It’s their technical expertise to reduce sodium and sugar and add proteins and fibres that are central to Nutri-Score and Traffic light upgrades.
It is those Front of Pack solutions that has allowed Griffith Foods to build its reputation as a partner and innovator, upgrading customer snacks portfolios and their nutritional labelling scores.
The race on two counts is on for snacks manufacturers – both to modify their current ranges to avoid promotional bans and to lay down new conditions on how to manage the future products and portfolio vision. There is no time to lose as the legislative landscape is fluid and first mover advantage will count for those that plan ahead.