June 29, 2016

Backed by consumer demand, the FDA has made new revisions to the Nutrition Facts label found on all foods and beverages in, and exported to the U.S. This is the first revamp for nutrition labels in 20 years – led my FLOTUS, Michelle Obama — to adjust and emphasize what modern shoppers care about when buying products for their families. Manufactures must implement the new labels by July 26, 2018; however, brands with less than $10 million in annual sales will have an extra year to comply.

A few key changes include bigger and more accurate serving size and calorie information. As lifestyles and consumption has changed overtime, it’s about time the food label has caught up. For example, a 20oz. bottle of soda that once said 2 servings and 120 calories each, will now read 1 serving at 240 calories. When thinking to a pint of ice cream that once offered 4 servings at 240 calories each, become 2 servings at 480 calories each.

Other changes include:

  • Added sugars
  • Dual column labeling
  • New % daily values

The Nutrition Facts label is widely regarded as the most reproduced graphic design of the past century — appearing on more than 6.5 billion packages. With the change, manufacturers will now have to include added sugars on the label – the same hidden sugars that are widely blamed in the U.S. for the obesity epidemic.

With over-consumption already an issue with many Americans, by including the added sugars row on the label, customers will be more informed and encouraged to make better dietary decisions.

If we take a look back in history, in 1960, the average male weighed 166 lbs. In 2012, the average male weighed 194 lbs. In 1960, women on average weighed 140 lbs., which in 2012 averaged 164lbs. The fact of the matter is; two-thirds of Americans are now overweight or obese, so will the new nutrition facts label help trim the lbs.?

In order to design a new, engaging package design that will encourage better decisions from consumers, brands must think about: What aspects of the product can be promoted as healthier than the competition based on the new requirements? Should they reformulate the product to take advantage of the labeling changes?

Here are a few other considerations from our brand and label experts:

Know the consumer. Reacting to these changes in a timely matter while embracing the new labeling requirements could increase customers’ faith in your brand — especially when the new packaging reinforces a positive or healthy message. Brands must consider both the positive and negative impacts of on-pack claims and compare to the competition to avoid the risk of consumers reducing or stopping purchases of your products. Products that seem less healthy after learning they contain added sugars or have a higher calorie count than they are used to may lead some brands to reformulate their products – ensuring the nutrition facts remain admirable to consumers.

Product innovation. To help establish trust and loyalty, use the Nutrition Facts label update as a way for your brand to take bold, decisive, competitive action. This could mean reformulating an existing product to better align with consumer expectations or repackaging your existing product to promote more responsible consumption.

New product innovation could also deliver heightened visibility of nutritional information – something that is very important to modern consumers. For example, with fewer ingredients and caloric content, brands can tap into consumer reactions and draw more attention to products by coordinating the update with packaging design changes.

Tune into trends. Look for ways to help educate consumers on nutrition and emphasize how your brand fits into their daily diet. Is your category focused on basic nourishment or indulgence? Understand consumer attitudes within your category to help your brand claim a position of strength against the competition and adjacent product categories. With a packaging redesign based on insightful claims that your buyers want to see, like “organic” “gluten-free” or “GMO-free”, etc. the packaging design will help position brands strongly and effectively on the shelf.

How many brands will take this opportunity to refresh package designs? The big winners will be brands that see this as a strategic opportunity, not just an imposed burden. All of your competitors are wrestling with the same regulatory requirements, but not all of them realize that consumers – not bureaucrats – are the real driving force behind the change. Successful brands will meet the needs of their consumers and will create a simplified way for consumers to make healthy choices with the help of clear labeling and fresh package design.

The FDA Nutrition Label update is a minimum requirement, but you have an opportunity to do so much more! For more information on the new FDA nutrition label update, and to test your brands readiness to comply on time, head over the Schawk’s Label Central – for exclusive articles, videos, and resources to help guide adoption of these changes.