June 17, 2015

For the first time in nearly 20 years, the FDA is proposing updates to its iconic Nutrition Facts label, giving manufacturers and brand owners a valuable opportunity to educate consumers and refresh and grow their brands.

The FDA’s proposed changes and deadlines might seem like a lifetime away, but smart brands are seizing the moment and using clean labeling initiatives to move toward greater transparency and consumer trust.

Among those who are succeeding in this area, are store brands that are creatively addressing consumers’ need for healthier choices and providing better access to nutrition information, says Jim Lucas, Principal of The Evanston Consulting Group and teacher of consumer behavior at Columbia College and the University of Chicago.

Kroger’s Simple Organic and Simple Truth lines lists 101 artificial preservatives and ingredients that are not included in the product, easing consumer concern over villainous ingredients. They don’t depend solely on packaging, but also reference their website where more information on the 101 ingredients and other nutrition facts can be found. The “Free from 101” initiative hit the mark on both transparency and accessibility, notes Lucas.

In addition, Target introduced Simply Balanced into its own-brand portfolio. The line of organic and natural products was designed to meet increasing demands for healthy food products at affordable prices and has created a high standard for clean packaging. Built on purity and simplicity, the Simply Balanced collection is crafted to be free of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives and avoids high fructose corn syrup. Its aim is to give consumers more of the simple, recognizable ingredients they know and want, as well as a food label they can understand.

For its own-brand products, Wegmans took part in a voluntary “Facts Up Front” initiative to display key data points on the front of the package in a larger, easy to read format. Information such as calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugars are listed clearly, making it even easier for consumers to understand a product’s nutritional value.

Other brands have made use of traffic light labels, traffic wheels and other symbols as part of their own “honest packaging” efforts. By using a simplified language they can provide front of package information and guidance on the healthiness of certain packaged foods.

“When you look at these examples, you realize that as a brand you don’t have to be perfect to get it right. However, even by making an honest attempt, brands and retailers can exceed consumer expectations.

It comes down to the relationships a brand wants to have with its shoppers and consumers, says Lucas. Each of these three store brands has chosen a way to have a relationship with consumers built on transparency and accessibility. They realize that safe, healthy eating is not just a matter of compliance with the FDA’s requirements; it’s about doing what’s best for consumers.

For more ways to achieve clean labeling and give consumers what they want, visit Schawk’s Label Central.