Europe 'setting the labelling benchmark for the US'

17th June 2014 - Fine Cut

A European 'holistic' approach to the nutritional information that appears on food and drink labelling could soon be adopted by US manufacturers, according to a leading market research organisation.

Bakeryandsnacks.com reports that American businesses in the sector are likely to follow the example set by their continental counterparts by not over-emphasising the health benefits of particular products.

The insight was offered by head of innovation at Mintel David Jago, who said that although there were plenty of differences between the two markets, certain elements were beginning to converge.

At the moment, one of the main points of disparity centres around how manufacturers 'sell' their products to the consumer, with US firms giving specific reasons why their offerings could provide the buyer with health benefits, while those in Europe tended to err on the side of simply stating their goods are "better for you".

Mr Jago said: "There are clear lessons to be learned from strong brands in Europe that don't talk overtly about health, but talk about being 'better for you'.

"It comes down to overt versus subtle - the fact you can position better for you without screaming health and ramming it down your throat. European brands are better than US companies at doing that."

The concept of clean label - the removal or replacement of any ingredients named on the packaging that sounded scientifically- or chemically-based - was another that Mintel identified as a future key trend for the US.

Already in operation across the continent as a result of pressure directed at manufacturers from the retailers, the US has yet to see a similar movement take place. However, the research organisation suggested that if Walmart, for example, "decided to get serious" on the issue, then it could result in a "big impact" across all food and drink sectors.

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