Food Label Claims: Tips for Delivering on Your Brand Promise
What message does your brand convey to consumers on your packaging? Consumer trends have pushed for clean labels and transparency. Food and beverage brands are highly regulated regarding what types of label claims can be made and what information must be included on packaging. Differentiating packaging to stand out amongst the thousands of products on retailers’ shelves can help brands stand out. But are the food label claims delivering on the brand promise?
An article in Consumer Reports, How Food Packaging Claims Can Fool You, warns consumers to beware of marketing terms used on many food packages. The article goes on to say that food marketing language falls outside of FDA regulations and, “It unfairly falls to shoppers to sleuth out what truly makes food healthy.”
There are clear guidelines about label claims, which provide consumers transparency and build trust. For brands trying to effectively communicate the benefits a product can offer consumers, getting the labeling right is critical.
Consumer Response to Food Label Claims
Front of package (FOP) labeling consists of familiar symbols and health claims. Everyday examples are ‘heart healthy,’ ‘low sodium,’ ‘sugar-free,’ ‘fat-free,’ ‘USDA Organic,’ and ‘Non-GMO.’ Do FOP claims influence consumers when making food purchasing decisions?
A survey conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation looked at consumer attitudes toward food labels and other aspects of packaging that drive purchasing decisions.
The survey found that FOP nutrition content icons like the Facts up Front label, Whole Grain stamp, Heart Check symbol were helpful for consumers wanting to make healthier selections and would make them more likely to purchase the product.
Brands that make ‘healthier-for-you’ ingredients a priority should use approved labels to influence consumer purchase behavior. The key is to maintain consumer loyalty by following federal guidelines for food and nutritional labeling.
Food Labeling Policy and Regulations
Food labels should convey information to consumers that facilitate informed decision making. In the United States, the labeling is regulated under several food laws such as Food Allergens, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. Requirements are in place to guarantee food safety and protect consumers from possible health risks. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provide regulations and guidelines for proper food labeling.
The FDA provides labeling information under the publication Guidance for the Industry: Food Labeling Guide. The following information is required on all food packaging:
- Statement of Identity or the name of the food must be placed on the front of the label or primary display panel.
- Net Contents or Net Quantity of Contents Statement provides the amount of food in the container or package. It is listed in weight, numeric count, or measure. Net contents are placed near the bottom of the primary display panel.
- Nutrition Facts Panel must be set off in a box and be placed with the ingredient list and name and place of business on the primary display panel or the information panel.
- Ingredient Statement or ingredients list is a list of each ingredient in descending order, from most to least, by weight. It is placed on the information panel.
- Food Allergen labeling is required as part of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. The primary food allergens that must be listed on the label are milk, egg, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans.
- Country of Origin
- Name and Place of Business
- Nutrient Content Claim (NCC) such as low fat, high in fiber, light, etc. must follow the FDA’s requirements.
For example, the health claim that whole grain foods may help reduce the risk for heart disease requires the specific food product to contain 51 percent more whole grain ingredients by weight per Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC); the dietary fiber content must be at least 3.0 g per RACC. The wording of the claim is specific for and must be followed. The claim on the package must read, “Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods, and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may help reduce the risk of heart disease.” (FDA Guidance for Industry: Food Labeling Guide)
With claims on food and beverage product labeling so highly regulated, it is no surprise that brands that push for innovative and new ways to provide information to consumers are subject to scrutiny and potential lawsuits.
Building Consumer Trust With Transparent Labeling
Regardless of the marketing strategies brands chose to adopt, transparency remains the key to long-term customer loyalty. Preventing confusion with misleading labeling claims and adhering to regulatory guidelines will build a relationship that will outlast dietary trends. FoodLogiQ understands the importance of transparency in building customer trust, especially in consumer packaged goods. Our innovative software allows you to monitor your supply chain, ensuring your ingredients meet the needs of your customers and enabling you to confidently back your brand’s marketing claims.
To learn more about how FoodLogiQ can help you achieve supply chain transparency, request a demo.