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Off the Starting Block: Making the Most of the New FDA Label Regulations

Posted By: SGK September 02, 2016

In our recent BrandSquare webinar, our very own Michael Leeds and Bruce Levinson offer some insights into the FDA label update. We’ve been waiting for the update for a couple years now, and it is finally here!

Watch the entire webinar here: Off the Starting Block: Making the Most of the New FDA Regulations  

To help consumers and clients understand what to expect from the FDA Nutrition Facts label changes, we’ve reached out to companies and clients we work with who are involved in food and beverage and nutrition supplements categories to ask a few questions. While companies are at very different stages of preparedness for the FDA label update, here are 3 things companies have already started to do in order to comply on time.

Organization. The first thing we typically see is the organization of a cross-functional team to manage the transition. More than just the legal team, it is really important for all other constituents across the organization to get involved as well. Once the team gets together, the next step is typically prioritizing SKUs.

Budget. There are considerations that go beyond just the cost of this change. If your budget is to cover the update at the expense of other activities that you might otherwise do in that compliance window, that’s going to have an impact on any other graphics changes, product launches, line extensions, etc. You want to make sure that’s well understood in your organization. If this is an incremental budget, you also want to make sure that the human resources are available – your partners, your agencies, the whole supply chain – is organized in that way.

Prioritization. In terms of priorities, it is still a little early to expect any organizations to have a full priority list from top to bottom. It is important to decide how you are going to decide what goes first. You want to touch packs just once, and you want to align your activities that are happening at the same time.

READ: The FDA Nutrition Label Update Is Your Opportunity to Gain a Competitive Brand Advantage

One major challenge companies face now is time. A few companies have gone on record saying they need 3 or 4 years – others have been asking for lengthy extensions. All of this really implies that there may be an opportunity to streamline processes and optimize budgets by bundling the changes and really revisiting the cadence of the packaging activities.

“The new regulation is changing the playing field. It’s actually something new for the market that companies all need to respond to, and that’s going to create winners and losers,” says Levinson.

Certain categories may be at a better advantage and certain brands will be at a better advantage, and of course the opposite is true. Those who see the regulations as a serious risk will need to proactively reformulate or repackage, or both. It might also be time to upgrade styling or remove an old claim on packs that haven’t been touched in a while, which will result in some companies responding by doing a graphic restage at the same time they change the label.

Advertising is harder and harder to reach consumers, so brands are increasingly looking to packaging as an “always-on” channel to break through the clutter. Consumers are in control, so the pack has got to work very hard in terms of telegraphing what the brand stands for, in order to tell its story.

Seize the moment – the regulation has given us a gift! For more information on the FDA label update, visit Schawk’s Label Central hub – assess your preparedness and read up on current resources regarding the regulations.