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Food and beverage manufacturers and retailers are teaming up in the fight against obesity by committing to develop a new front-of-package nutrition labeling systems designed to make it easier for busy consumers to make informed choices when they shop.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) plan to launch a nutrition rating systems that will add important nutrition information on calories and other nutrients to the front of the packages of many popular food and beverage products in a fact-based, simple format. In addition, the two groups will finalize details on how to provide consumers with information on nutrients needed to build a “nutrient-dense” diet, as well as information about “shortfall nutrients” that are under-consumed in the diets of most Americans.
“America’s food retailers are partnering with manufacturers to combat obesity,” said Ric Jurgens, chairman of the board, CEO, and president of Hy-Vee, Inc., and current chairman of the FMI board of directors. “We live in a fast-paced world that gets busier by the day. By placing clear and straightforward nutrition information on the front of our packages, we are furthering our industry’s commitment to helping our customers make healthy choices.”
Consumers will begin to see the new label in the marketplace early next year. “Thanks to this initiative and many other innovative industry programs, consumers will now have access to more information about their food than ever before,” said FMI president and CEO, Leslie G. Sarasin. “This unprecedented partnership with manufacturers will expand access to nutrition information for all Americans and give shoppers a powerful tool to assist them in selecting nutritious products.”
“The food and beverage industry is committed to empowering consumers by providing them with the products, tools and information they need to achieve and maintain a healthy diet,” said GMA president and CEO Pamela G. Bailey. “This initiative comes on top of the 20,000 healthier product choices we have developed, the responsible marketing practices we have adopted, and the tens of millions of dollars we spend annually on healthy lifestyle promotion.”
To build consumer awareness and promote use of the new label, America’s food and beverage manufacturers and retailers have agreed to support the change to their product labels with a $50 million consumer education campaign. The campaign, to be launched in 2011, will be aimed at parents who are primary household shoppers.
“This is a landmark step forward in the industry’s commitment to help address the obesity challenge,” said David Mackay, president and CEO of Kellogg Co. “It represents the most significant change to food labels in the United States in nearly 20 years. And our commitment to an ambitious consumer education campaign will amplify the impact the labeling change will have in households across the country.”
Based in Washington, D.C., the GMA represents more than 300 food, beverage, and consumer product companies. FMI, also in Washington, represents approximately 1,500 food retailers and wholesalers globally.