NCA adopts voluntary front of pack calorie labels

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

NCA members invited to put calories on front of pack
NCA members invited to put calories on front of pack

Related tags Nutrition facts label Nutrition Food Nca

The National Confectionery Association (NCA) of the United States has adopted a voluntary position to put calories on the front of packs.

Speaking to at ISM 2013 in Cologne, Germany, NCA President Larry Graham said:  “This a volunteer effort, but most of our companies are going to label on the front of their package the total calories that are in that product.”

“Most are willing and the few that aren’t it’s just really logistical reasons. Generally speaking it’s just because there isn’t room on the front of the package to have all this information – it’s all there on the back of the package.”

The NCA said in comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010 that it favored voluntary listing of calories front of pack rather than a scale or rating system.

At the time, the NCA rejected a  nutrition ranking system, such as traffic lights or a numerical scale, which it said would promote some foods as ‘good’ and others as ‘bad’ in a way that  “would likely denigrate candy.”

Consumer demand for information

Graham said that the NCA’s initiative hadn't come as a result of government pressure.

 “That’s just something we’re doing because we want consumers to have more information about the products that they’re eating,”​ he said.

He added: “Confectionery is only 2% of the calories in an American diet, so we don’t feel that our products have any negative health effects and we’re trying to educate the consumer about that.”

Mars does it on all confectionery

In 2008, Mars claimed to be the first confectionery company in the US to implement Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) nutrition labeling on all of its chocolate, non-chocolate confectionery and other food products.

Its ‘What’s Inside’ labels launched at the end of 2010 feature calorie, fat, sugar and sodium totals.

Mars set a target to have 100% of its chocolate and confectionery products globally carrying the GDA labels by year-end 2012.

M&Ms with GDA
Mars' M&M's Pretzel with GDA label (150 calories)

Mondelēz and Hershey undecided

Mondelēz International and Hershey are yet to implement front of pack calorie labeling.

Laurie Guzzinati, regional director, corporate & government affairs North America, told “Specific to the Mondelēz International business/products in the United States, we are in communication with NCA to understand their program as it develops, but have not yet made any decisions specific to our confectionery products.”

Jeff Beckman, head of corporate communications at Hershey said: "We are currently evaluating front of pack labeling and working with NCA as they develop front of pack labeling recommendations to address the unique requirements of the confectionery industry."  

Europe’s position

Across Europe, nearly half (48%) of all packaged food products have nutrition information front of pack, according to FLABEL (Food Labeling to Advance Better Education for Life). In the UK, this amount rises to 80%.

Front of pack nutrition labels are currently voluntary in Europe.

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