The ongoing battle over the increasing girth of American consumers is heating up — again.
Marketers have joined forces on a $50 million campaign plugging front-of-pack labeling called Facts Up Front, dually motivated by bettering their image among consumers and getting federal regulators off their backs. The Facts Up Front initiative actually began in 2011, displaying stats such as calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar content, but it was promoted lightly and had little effect on consumer sentiment.
The latest campaign, funded by members of the Grocery Marketing Association and the Food Marketing Institute is being helmed by BBDO, Edelman and FoodMinds. Major food companies including General Mills, Kraft Foods Group, Mondelez International, Kellogg and Hershey will participate in the program which GMA estimates will include 70 to 80 percent of products from participating companies by year’s end.
While the nutritional labeling better empowers consumers to make their own decisons about what is good or bad for them, Marian Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at NYU and author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry influences Nutrition and Health told AdAge that the initiative is a "clever end-run around the FDA," and points out that food brands can mix and match displayed nutrition information, for instance highlighting positive attributes such as Vitamin A and potassium, alongside facts on fat and sodium.
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Candy-maker Mars jumped on board early, claiming to be America's first candy company to voluntarily implement nutrition labeling on all of its chocolate bars and other food products in 2008, while Hershey followed suit just this past April, agreeing to print the amounts of calories, saturated fats, sodium and sugar per serving on the front of all of its packages beginning in the second half of this year and increasing to all of its packaging over the next several years.
Last year, Walmart began adding a "Great for You" label to the front of canned fruits, vegetables and other healthier food options in an attempt to guide consumer dietary decisions.
This post first appeared on Brandchannel on August 5, 2013.