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Leveraging the FDA’s proposed food label changes

Leveraging the FDA’s proposed food label changes
A mocked-up package shows the current label and the “new realities” label with the proposed label changes.

What does the FDA’s revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels mean for your brand and package design? SGK’s Carol Best shares her views and advice.

Carol Best, VP, Client Engagement, SGK, presents on the topic “Turning FDA Proposed Label Changes into a Competitive Advantage” on Wednesday morning at Packaging Digest’s Global Food & Beverage Packaging Summit in downtown Chicago July 7-8.

She will be covering:

• What the Food & Drug Administration's revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels means for your brand and package design;

• The impact of the label change on packaging companies and their design/engineering strategy going forward;

• Tactics for adapting to new regulatory requirements to meet the changing needs of the packaging marketplace.

Best was generous enough to provide a sneak peek in responding to Packaging Digest’s questions about the topic:

What kind of interest and activity are you seeing related to the FDA's proposed revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels changes?

Best: If we consider the website as an indicator of interest—we know this initiative has received more than 287,000 comments. That’s an astounding number when compared to comments received for both gluten free and hydrogenated oils—where there were less than 2,000 comments each. 

What I have not yet seen, and I’m hoping my presentation will shed light upon, is that “interest" has not yet correlated to “activity.”

I passionately believe there are actions that organizations can do today that will immensely enable them to better manage this regulation change and, even better, to use it as a competitive advantage. 

In my experience, I’ve only had one client initiate the conversation with us on how we think they should best prepare. I’ve found the majority of the conversations are happening because SGK is driving discussion with clients and prospects. This needs to change.

What’s a good strategy for brand owners to have related to the proposed label changes?

Best:  I believe there are two good strategies:

1. Organizations need to fix their design process inefficiencies now. That way when resources, within the organization and throughout the supply chain, are overburdened with the volumes required to comply with this initiative the process won’t be additionally burdened with an inefficient workflow. Most organizations in which I engage realize their process can and should be improved. Use the FDA proposed label changes as a catalyst to drive organizational focus to optimizing your process.

2. Organizations need to better understand their consumers and shoppers. By gaining current intelligence on consumer attitudes and shopper behaviors, brand owners are equipped with the most relevant data sets to inform how to best position their brand for growth in the post-FDA label marketplace. By gaining this intelligence now, marketers will be one step ahead of their competition when the FDA announces the change and they develop their brand's response.

What departments within a company can be affected by these changes?

Best: For starters, the entire design commercialization process and supply chain will be impacted. That includes all internal resources: design management, marketing, legal, regulatory, QA as well as those partners in the supply chain: design agency, pre-press companies and printers. However, when more dramatic responses to the proposed label changes exist, like reformulation, R&D and consumer insights/research will also get taxed. And for retailers managing a private brands portfolio, it is imperative to consider the impact this regulation will have on product manufacturers.

Can you share a “Best Practices” for companies to follow?

Best: One best practice is to prioritize how each brand within the portfolio will respond to the proposed label changes. Not all brands will be impacted the same way. Some brands and product categories will over-index with a more informed consumer and a more meticulous shopping behavior.

Others will be impacted dramatically based on new requirements for claims (such as formulation changes, branding changes and claim changes). Some brands may simply respond with a back panel update to contain the new nutrition facts label. Best practice will include the realization to prioritize response activities and investment based on limited resources, time and budget.

If you would like additional information or resources regarding the impending label change, please visit Schawk's Label Central for up-to-date news and insights.

To hear more from experts like Best and especially if you live in the Chicago area, consider attending Packaging Digest’s Global Food & Beverage Packaging Summit held in downtown Chicago July 7-8. Other presenters include those from Little Big Brands, Revolution Foods, Mondelez Intl., J.M. Smucker, Heineken, Personify, Tetra Pak, Continuum, Ampac, Berlin Packaging and more.

The SGK website is



Carol Best, vp, client engagement at SGK, has 15 years expertise in brand strategy and client management guiding the development and stewardship of some of the world’s most well-known brands. Prior to joining SGK, Best worked with Interbrand (New York and Cincinnati), where she helped build a strategy department to service Procter & Gamble and was part of the firm’s innovation team.

Her roster of clients includes P&G, Walmart, The Coca-Cola Co., CVS Pharmacy, Unilever, Petco, 7-Eleven, Dole, Safeway, Kellogg, Tesco, Revlon, A&P, Colgate-Palmolive, True Value, Jose Cuervo, Walgreens, Nestlé and Campbell's.

Best holds a B.S. in Economics and Marketing from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

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