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Evaluating the impact on business of changes to nutrition labelling requirements in the UK
Project Code: N09023
Leatherhead Food International
The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) commissioned Leatherhead Food International (LFI) to examine the extent of nutrition labelling used on food packaging and to estimate the cost to industry of making this type of labelling mandatory. The study ran from February 2006 to September 2006.
Two key aspects of nutrition labelling in the UK were examined.
• Part 1 of the project aimed to assess the proportion of products already bearing nutrition labelling and to determine how this nutrition information was obtained (by analysis or by other means). This Section also examined whether declarations were voluntary or mandatory (triggered by a nutrition claim) and sought to identify the food sectors and business types that do not provide nutrition labelling and the reasons for this.
• Part 2 aimed to determine the cost impact of mandatory nutrition labelling on existing products were this introduced.
A questionnaire was developed in conjunction with the FSA, addressing the following key elements: current use of nutrition labelling by the company; cost of nutrition labelling; both current and estimated costs if nutrition labelling were to become mandatory.
At the beginning of the project, a pilot version of the questionnaire was trialled with a small selection of companies representing a cross-section of food sectors. Out of 89 companies targeted, 31 completed questionnaires were obtained (see Appendix 1). Following the pilot study a restructured and simplified questionnaire was developed for the main study taking into account the issues raised in the pilot study.
The main survey was heavily promoted through a range of channels and ultimately a further 353 UK-based food companies responded with fully completed questionnaires.
Data obtained included cost estimates to provide group 2 nutrition labelling; this was divided into one-off costs to make labelling changes and ongoing annual costs to maintain the accuracy of the information such as analytical fees. Analysis of the numerical cost information obtained indicated that for all product sectors the total one-off cost is anticipated to be higher than the additional annual costs (see Appendix 5).
The availability of a free nutrient database or software for the calculation of nutrition information emerged as the most popular suggestion for mitigating the impact of possible changes to nutrition labelling requirements.
Key concerns expressed related to the available space on packaging to accommodate nutrition information, the actual cost to companies of making changes to their packaging and the resultant additional costs.
Leatherhead Food International would like to thank the trade bodies and regional development agencies who assisted in the promotion of this survey and in particular to thank the individual companies who took the time to provide their data.
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