As one of the latest labelling practices to have hit the Food & Beverage industry, the Nutri-Score is making its way into food producers’ minds. “Should we use it? Is it effective? How will we benefit?” are just a few questions product innovators are asking themselves.
Despite whatever doubts companies may have, one thing is for sure: consumers are attracted to the Nutri-Score and would be happy to have it stay for a while.
Designed to help consumers choose healthier foods, the adoption of the Nutri-Score across Europe is expected to grow, so brands who implement it early on can use the Nutri-Score as an opportunity to get above the competition.
The spread of Nutri-Score across Europe
Within the last few years, and particularly now, as the pandemic is on most people’s minds, more and more consumers care about actively maintaining their health. 92% of European consumers understand the importance of controlling the types of food they eat in order to stay healthy.
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However, a significant portion of these consumers are not acting on their concerns. While the vast majority of Europeans acknowledge that they need to reduce how much fat, sugar, and salt they eat, obesity is quickly becoming a crisis as 40% to 60% of people are obese in different European countries.
To combat some of these issues, the Nutri-Score was developed in France in 2017 to help consumers quickly choose healthy food options. The colored label acts as a supplement to the nutrition panel on the back of the packaging, because consumers can be oriented with the food’s health level by glancing at the easy-to-read label.
Since its creation, Nutri-Score has expanded from France to Belgium, Spain, and recently Germany, among others. Within these countries, Danone and Nestlé are two brands that have already implemented Nutri-Score for their products, to the delight of consumers and regulators.
The Nutri-Score and its (possible) shortcomings
Is the Nutri-Score truly helpful for consumers? Should they be offered this form of decision making or does the back nutrition panel suffice?
Companies ignoring the spread of the Nutri-Score across Europe may be neglectful in some way because they are not asking these important questions, or supporting their consumers’ interests. A recent survey of 1600 German consumers choose Nutri-Score over similar food labelling systems designed for fast and healthy decision making.
Though the Nutri-Score is agreeable to consumers, many brands view it as an unnecessary burden. There’s talk of it being unfair and overly simplistic. A carbonated, flavored water could get a green score despite being full of artificial ingredients, while a cooking oil might get a red score because it is full of fats.
Many of the frustrations surrounding Nutri-Score are likely to be misconceptions. Foods that are naturally full of healthy fats will not be given a negative label, for example.
The Nutri-Score as an opportunity
For those who wish to see how it works, companies can begin calculating the rating themselves using the Nutri-Score calculator.
Even if the rating is in a high orange or red category, the benefit is that consumer transparency across a brand could earn a high level of trust and satisfaction with consumers. Afterall, 86% of consumers say that lack of transparency will drive them to spend money with a brand’s competitor instead. And transparency is a growing value among all consumers, especially millennials and gen z.
As a result, a company who implements these transparent labelling practices may attract new consumers who are intrigued by the colorful display of the Nutri-Score and the quick information it provides. Taking advantage of this now may be a reason a brand wins over their competitors who are not using the Nutri-Score.
Perhaps an even greater benefit to the Nutri-Score would be a company’s need to transform and innovate their products to meet the favorable A-B scores. Companies could use this as an opportunity to make healthier choices for their food production so that the brand is perceived better as a whole.
The future of the Nutri-Score
Though no country has yet made Nutri-Score a requirement, Germany is looking into doing so. In the beginning of October, the German Federal Council approved the ordinance to legally use the Nutri-Score on a voluntary basis, with it expected to come into force in early November 2020.
It’s not possible for EU countries to individually make the label mandatory as opposed to voluntary. Making it mandatory in one EU country would necessitate EU-wide regulation. So while mandatory labelling isn’t possible yet, Germany’s Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture is currently exploring ways to establish the legal foundation for expanded use.
With increased pressure from regulatory agencies, governments with growing health crises, and consumers, more transparent labelling will undoubtedly grow. By accepting this and implementing it sooner rather than later, brands can stay ahead of the trends and their competition.
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