Seeing the Opportunity Beyond the Obligation

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Three Ways to Leverage Nutrition Facts Label Changes into a Competitive Advantage

As a food-buying culture, trends indicate Americans are moving in a positive direction. Consumers have long appreciated the truths provided by the FDA Nutrition Facts label, and comparative shoppers consider it one of the great equalizers at the shelf. Upcoming changes are likely to increase the label’s influence even more.

After nearly two decades, the ubiquitous FDA Nutrition Facts label will soon reflect a more realistic (some might say critical) representation of the product inside a package. Among the more significant changes are “added sugars” called out as a specific line item, and modifications to “serving size”. This overhaul affects an estimated 800,000 packaged food items, and takes effect on July 26, 2018.

No one likes a mandate, but this one creates a unique side effect; a compelling opportunity emerges for forward-thinking CPG companies. Don’t just make a plate change; take a step back and see the bigger picture–and consider using this compulsory change to proactively revisit both your brand and product strategies.

For those who take full advantage of the situation, the FDA changes will prove favorable and provide a competitive advantage. For others… well, let’s just say that American consumers make little allowance for ‘participation prizes’ on the grocer’s shelf. 

Here are three ways to leverage this “mandated change” into a brand opportunity:

1. Research

Even if you anticipate the FDA Nutrition Facts label mandate will negatively affect perception of your current product, there is no need to just cringe and hope for the best. You still have time to prepare and adapt. For a reasonable cost, an independent lab can assess the updated nutritional information for your product line…but get in line early–lab prices could increase based on growing demand. Don’t forget to run some tests on competitors’ products as well– it can be quite insightful.

2. Reformulate

Consider utilizing corporate chefs and food scientists to help revise your products. These unsung heroes can innovate, re-formulate, and tweak ingredients–particularly sweetening technology. Their expertise can help deliver the same flavor experience consumers have learned to expect, but with a caloric measure you can be happy with. And like most consultants, their cross-category experience keeps them in-tune with broader market trends, which can help you develop an innovative product pipeline. So think beyond your immediate needs and consider new line extensions and products as you reformulate your existing lineup. 

3. Refresh

As the compliance date draws nearer, consumers will be inundated with the media’s spin on these events. Call it free publicity. This is an ideal time for a brand refresh, since consumers are already anticipating change. Launch new brands, line extensions, refreshed formulations, fresh graphics–the market will be ready to try something new.

To simply comply with the Nutritional Fact label mandate without looking at the bigger competitive picture can be a shortsighted recipe for failure. It is wise to assume your competition is acting, so if you’re not, you are already behind.  Need immediate help preparing for FDA compliance? Damen Jackson has assembled an experienced team of packaging, food science and retail insight experts to help your brand take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the FDA Nutrition Facts label change.