Proposed FDA Rule Changes Build on Consumer Discussion & May Portend Packaged Foods Market Changes
In an ongoing effort to combat obesity and promote public health the Obama administration is promoting proposed Food and Drug Administration changes to food labeling, the first significant changes since 1993. The agency proposed the update on February 27th as the and among the proposed changes are:
Updated serving sizes to more accurately reflect actual consumption
Larger, bolded calorie count font
New daily values which are displayed first
A new category called “added sugar”
To see how well these changes resonated with consumer concerns DataRank analyzed consumer conversations around nutrition labels on a sample of consumer-packaged goods to see which ingredients got the most attention.
Given the large concern around calories, serving size, and sugar, the proposed changes play into consumer’s go-to indicators of health. One area of change which has generated little discussion is “recommended daily values”, or the average amount of any vitamin, chemical, or quantity a person should consume in a day, indicates consumers rely less on these pre-tabulated measures than the raw values provided on the label. The FDA’s proposed updates and more prominent position will likely serve to bring more consumer focus to the daily values while enhancing discussion on already important indicators. Overall, the food label update is hitting consumers’ concerns. Other concerns, such as genetically modified organism labeling, are still relatively far from the FDA’s rulemaking docket regardless of activist pressure.
The nutrition label update could herald changes in both consumer and producer behavior. Consumers, already sensitive to caloric intake and the role of sugars in their diets, may shy away from products with added sugar or become even stricter calorie-counters as the information becomes more prominent. Companies could also feel the changes as consumer preferences adjust to new information and attention is drawn to parts of the label that previously received little more than a cursory glance. Advocates of the changes argue the more prominently displayed dietary information may have just this effect, driving changes in the packaged foods marketplace. Firms may indeed feel the pressure with some companies considering changes to serving side or accelerating formula changes while well-positioned products may use their formulas as hero claims to gather disaffected consumers.
To read more about the proposed food label changes and the reasoning behind them take a look at this article at Tufts Now in the link below.
*Chart shows ranked discussion of traits by volume
^FDA insignia represent categories with proposed rule changes