What do you think about brands giving dietary and nutrition guidance on their packaging? Do they provide an added value or are they invasive? In response to recent trends for a healthier lifestyle, and in compliance to new regulations against obesity and bad nutrition (in these days, the European Union’s initiative on forced labelling for prepackaged food became law, in accordance to the FIR directive – Food Information to Consumers Regulation), prevalent factors in recent years, the industry is trying to anticipate the regulatory action on packaging by choosing “healthier” food & beverage products and by including on packaging suggestions and recommendations on how to eat and drink their products the best.
The food & beverage packaging is a segment growing at a high rate. A recent study by Smithers Pira, commisioned by Asia Pulp & Paper group, estimates that for the only Ho.Re.Ca. segment, packaging will reach 40 billion dollars of total revenues, equivalent to 2,040 billion of boxes, by the end of the year.
The sector is also one that has evolved and innovated the most in recent years, as packaging manufacturers have taken steps to respond to changing regulatory and consumer pressures. Labelling in particular, when deployed effectively, enable tracing and provide reassurance as to the contents of a product packaging.
While some consumers may find this activity of putting nutritional indications on packaging intrusive and unnecessary, providing dietary guidance is actually a smart branding choice for food & beverage companies. The public is constantly bombarded with news stories about the growth of obesity, increased levels of diabetes and other health problems caused by a bad diet. Misleading food labels are often singled out as a leading cause, so by clearly identifying the nutritional value of their foods or beverages also when it is not mandatory by regulation, brands can claim to be pursuing positive solutions to the problem. The packaging itself, showing “luxurious” pictures of food portions, can lead consumers to overestimating the correct portions and to exceeding in the daily calories count. Experts warn: this kind of presentation of the product can lead consumers to eat far more and to consider as “normal” portions which in reality are not.
Yet, consumers are getting more sensitive to nutrition and to its impact on health, and they search in packaging, in an increasingly way, information about the calorie count and other nutritional information before purchasing food and beverages, sometimes leading retailers to furnish their stores with healthier alternatives. Even if it could seem counter-intuitive, companies that operate in advance on the nutritional value of their products strengthen the appreciation of their brand and present themselves as proactive ambassadors of consumers’ health. And even if the truth is that junk food will not disappear from in-store shelves so soon, yet labelling them as junk food destined to occasional consumption creates a shared responsibility: it provides nutritional education by giving consumers the opportunity of choosing free, but with awareness.
Some of the most famous brands on the shelves of groceries have already caught this trend. Here are some examples: Kraft, which announced the removal of artificial colorings from its super-popular mix for maccheroni and cheese; Coca-Cola, which launched a new soda line, Coca-Cola Life, containing stevia for sugar, as a more natural and low-calorific Coca-Cola; and Campbell, which announced the reduction of the number of ingredients included in its soups, starting from the classic noodles and chicken mix, stably sold in the US since its birth in 1934.
Although dietary suggestions represent a smart play for food brands, there are at least two potential pitfalls, which brands must bear in mind.
The first one is pricing, still a critical factor for the food & beverage industry branding. But, for example, maintaining package sizes while including portion guidelines, or offering smaller, pre-packaged portions at cheaper prices, can assure consumers of a company’s focus on health while still preserving prices.The second one is the key importance of options: brands which provide nutritional indications should consider a wide range of healthier alternatives. In this way, they can maintain intact their brand, keeping the clients’ fidelity high, and also gathering a new attention from consumers knowing and loving them, but searching for new alternatives.
Asia Pulp & Paper had been intercepting these needs since a long time. It continues to develop packaging solutions precisely designed to satisfy the needs of food industry, through the product line Foopak. The Foopak line is high quality and oil- and grease-proof. It is perfect for pre-cooked and refrigerated products. One of its most important contributes to food industry is its resistance to high temperatures, avoiding chemical reactions which could change the composition or the characteristics of the prepackaged product, in compliance to the European Union regulations on the matter, in order to guarantee security of all consumers. Moreover, Foopak guarantee perfect printing performances, adapting to every producer’s needs. Furthermore, it is appropriate for heat-sealing, protecting as freshness and quality of the product, as its taste and original characteristics. Foopak is compliant to all the current regulations in the food sector, such as ISEGA, FDA, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, among the others, as well as being a product range that is fully compliant to “halal” requirements and certified by the Indonesian standard HAS 23000.
By Laura Barreiro, Sustainability and Stakeholders Engagement, Europe – Asia Pulp & Paper Group