But regardless of how this plays out, CPG companies have had to decide how they are approaching GMO labeling well in advance thanks to Vermont’s earlier deadline.
Earlier this year, Campbell Soup broke ranks with the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) when it supported the enactment of “federal legislation to establish a single mandatory labelling standard for foods derived from GMOs.”
Additionally, it announced that all of its products will bear the presence of genetically modified ingredients on its packages in time for Vermont’s law to take effect, making it the first major company to voluntarily do so.
Though Vermont’s law is now effective, Vermont's attorney general has said enforcement will not kick in until early 2017, while private citizens won’t be able to sue companies for improper labelling until July 2017.
Are they ready?
We reached out to several big companies to see how they readied themselves for Vermont. Like Campbell Soup, General Mills has prepared itself since the early half of the year with on-package language.
“In March we announced our decision to use the Vermont labels nationwide,” a General Mills spokesperson told FoodNavigator-USA. “The new packaging is on shelves now. “
Kellogg and Mars are also in the same boat. “We do not anticipate any product availability issues in Vermont as a result of the state’s labeling law,” a spokesperson from Kellogg said. Mars added that they proactively implemented the GMO labels because of consumer demand. "We firmly believe in the safety of genetically engineered ingredients based on scientific evidence, but we also recognize that consumers want choice. Many Mars products are already GMO-free – and based on consumer interest and demand we will continue to offer GMO-free choices as the market demands," Mars spokesperson Jonathan Mudd said. The companies did not disclose how the new labels indicating the presence of genetically modified ingredients affected sales.
Some companies, like Kraft-Heinz, chose not to comment. Coca-cola, on the other hand, is so far the only major CPG company to announce that it had to pull some lower-volume brands and packages products out of Vermont “to avoid multiple labeling changes,” a spokesperson for the beverage giant told Bloomberg.
The story was updated to include a quote from Mars Inc.