March is National Nutrition Month—the ideal time, according to one US label manufacturer—to take stock and get ready for the new label requirements on the horizon.
Sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Nutrition Month is a push to educate consumers about eating healthy foods and making informed choices about what they put on their plates.
Check your labels
AnneMarie Campbell, business development manager for Colorado-based Lightning Labels, said the month is a good time for food firms and brand managers to look at their own labels.
“Focusing on nutrition is an important way to gain consumer trust," Campbell said “This year's theme, 'Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right,' can help companies increase the visibility of food items that will encourage consumers to pursue healthy lifestyles; effective labeling strategies can play a vital role."
In late February, the US Food and Drug Administration (with the help of First Lady Michelle Obama) gave a sneak peek at proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts on food labels. The guidelines call for more prominent display of information regarding calorie count, serving size, added sugars, and other factors.
Campbell recommended food firms use their packaging to “stay ahead of the game” in the months before the guidelines are implemented. For example, companies can communicate with on-pack messaging about nutrition in general, and the proposed Nutrition Facts labelling in specific details.
“Using label space to teach shoppers about nutrition is a good way to gain trust, but also to encourage consumers to return to products time after time,” she added.
The USDA unveiled the proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label, which has not changed substantially since the 1990s, in late February. The comment period on the suggested alterations is 90 days.