Front-of-packaging has become increasingly popular with U.S. food manufacturers touting some of the nutritional benefits of their better-for-you products. However, there is one global front-of-packaging trend that might raise cause for concern.
To target an obesity epidemic that affects more than half of its population, Chile has launched a labeling initiative that prevents marketing to children under 14 and includes front-of-packaging “stop signs” that caution consumers about products high in sugar, saturated fats or calories. That initiative has prompted companies like Grupo Bimbo to reformulate products to protect most of its brands by reducing the number of stop-sign labels. And the company may have to do it again as even stricter regulations go into effect in 2019 in Chile.
“Why is this such a big deal? Because it is affecting our industry´s sales,” noted Maria Carolina Gollo, innovation/global marketing, for Mexico City-based Grupo Bimbo, during BEMA’s annual convention. “Products with no stamps are growing four times faster than those with stamps.”
In Europe and the United States, bakers are also facing a changing labeling environment that could cost millions in packaging costs over the next few years. Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the American Bakers Association, called these increasingly mobile global labeling trends part of a trail of disruption affecting the industry.
“New labeling requirements are happening in all parts of the world,” he said. “What’s happening in Chile with their labeling requirements is moving up into Mexico and can end up in California.”
Bakers and snack producers might keep an eye on this “stop sign” trend before it and other labeling issues put the breaks on a robust industry.