While the Obama administration continues to deliberate to what extent and how quickly food and beverage companies must communicate more nutrition information on the packages of their products, more CPG leaders are stepping out with their own initiatives to address still-rising concerns about junk food and obesity in America.
Hershey is the latest. The candy leader announced that it will 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 evolving across all of its packaging over the next several years.
“We are doing this because we belive that front-of-pack labeling provides consumers with straightforward information that empowers them to make informed food and beverage choices when shopping,” said a Hershey spokesman, according to Candy and Snack Today.[more]
Hershey’s move is consistent with new requirements by the Grocery Manufacturers Association trade group that asks the four nutrition-fact icons be positioned side-by-side under the serving size. On small food packs, GMA recommends using one icon to list the calories per serving. The association recently launched a website to support the Facts Up Front movement, which includes a calorie calculator and information for consumers and healthcare professionals on healthy eating.
Still, Hershey’s is arguably trailing its big competitor, Mars, in this arena. It was five years ago that Mars trumpeted itself as America’s first candy company to voluntarily implement similar nutrition labeling on all of its chocolate bars and other food products. Mars shortly introduced new graphics on the front of most packages that provided information on fat, calories, sodium and sugar.
And interestingly, new research suggests that such labeling gambits do have an effect on American consumers. In a study, college students determined that candy bars with green calorie labels—like those already used by Mars—were a healthier option than those with red calorie labels, despite the fact that they had the same number of calories. The study was conducted by a professor at Cornell University. While it’s greenwashing of a certain variety, it deserved notice by CPG brands.