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Assessing the ramifications of front-of-pack label

Front-of-pack nutrition labeling is a hot button in the push to improve dietary habits in the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue labeling guidelines soon as part of the Obama Administration’s fight against obesity, which has reached epidemic proportions in this country.
On this much everyone agrees: Anything that prompts consumers to pay more attention to what they put in their bodies is a good thing. Already, the large national brands seem to be on board with front-of-pack labeling. But the issue is causing a stir among private brands.

I heard ample evidence of that in October when I accompanied about 60 private-label manufacturers at legislative briefings on Capitol Hill and then moderated a panel discussion on front-of-pack labeling at the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s annual Washington Conference.

At both the briefing updates and the panel discussion, those who work in private label voiced a list of concerns about front-of-pack labeling. Here are two that should concern anyone invested in contract packaging: The complexity in meeting the requirements will be markedly worse for private-brand manufacturers, because they often are responsible for many more SKUs than national brands. And front-of-pack labels would make existing package inventories obsolete, creating costly waste.

Whether you’re a retailer or food or beverage products company, it would be wise to get with your contract packagers now to discuss how they might help you seamlessly work through the operational impact of front-of-pack labeling. If you’re a food or beverage product manufacturer new to the contract packaging game, consider asking packaging service companies about their capabilities and readiness to help customers through front-of-pack labeling issues. These questions should be part of your vendor-qualifying process.

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