With the January 2020 deadline looming, many consumer packaged goods companies are rushing to re-engineer labels to meet the FDA’s more stringent nutritional information requirements. But 45 companies have already taken matters into their own hands.
Under the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association’s two-year-old SmartLabel initiative, these companies are using digital technology to give a growing number of consumers more thorough information on nutrition, allergans, food origins and other decision-making content.
According to GMA, SmartLabel now boasts 676 brands encompassing almost 25,000 food, beverage, HBC and household products. In terms of consumer engagement, there were 14,323 live products, 800,000 sessions/visits across company brand pages and 25,000 visits to smartlabel.org in the third quarter of 2017. A GMA spokesperson said the number of live products has already increased by about 10,000.
The most common inquiries, according to the spokesperson, are related to allergens, ingredients, expiration dates and certifications like "Non-GMO Project" verified. Two-thirds of inquires come via smartphones or tablets, he added. (Personal information is not collected.)
SmartLabel’s plethora of product details exceeds the FDA’s new mandate and could never fit on a package label. In addition to listing ingredients, SmartLabel can explain what ingredients are and why they are included, along with their function and origins. This might include details on how a product was made, how animals are treated during development or the environmental impact of the process.
“More than ever, consumers are seeking access to increasing amounts of information about the food, beverage, household and personal care products they use and we as an industry must find a way to provide it,” said Jim Flannery, senior executive vice president of GMA, last November.