26 October 2017
by Tetra Pak Editorial Team
From Chile, our sugar-sweetened beverage series heads north to the U.S. and Canada. As discussed in the series’ first post, the U.S. had passed new FDA regulations requiring food and beverage brands to include added sugar in grams and as a percentage of daily value on a redesigned Nutritional Facts label as part of a comprehensive nutritional label reform. Canadian lawmakers were in the midst of updating its Food Guide for the first time in a decade.

Since then, the deadline for brands to meet the FDA’s new label requirements has been extended, although many have already adopted them well ahead of the original July 26, 2018 deadline. In Canada, the first draft of the new Food Guide has been released. The public has had the opportunity to send feedback on the document, which promotes plant-based sources of protein among other changes.

In order to continue building their businesses amidst a constantly changing regulatory environment, not to mention consumers’ changing wants and needs, brands can consider spearheading initiatives to keep food regulators at bay and creating products suited to the consumer-driven movement toward healthier products and clean labels, a trend not likely to change any time soon.

Start conversations about healthy choices
The update to Canada’s Food Guide and the FDA’s new label are attempts to bridge the divide between the regulations legislators are considering and the nutritional needs of the people they represent. They’re meant to help people make better food choices.
But in a time when people gravitate toward brands aligning with their ethics, there’s no need to wait for regulators to set the agenda. Brands can take the lead in engaging consumers in a frank, direct exchange about food choices.

Take the Canadian Beverage Association’s (CBA) Balance Calories as an example. Noticing that people were increasingly buying beverages with less added sugar, the association decided to launch Balance Calories as an industry-led initiative with the goal of reducing Canadians’ caloric consumption of non-alcoholic beverages by 20 percent. Thus far, the CBA, which represents more than 60 brands including juice, sport drink, bottled water and soft drink companies, has worked to restrict marketing to children, eliminate full-calorie soft drinks from schools and introduce front of pack labelling through Balance Calories.

“Sugar consumption through beverages is considerably lower in Canada. Almost half of products on the shelf from the beverage sector are either low or no calorie. This makes Canada unique in North America. The fact is that calories consumed from beverages, as proven by Conference Board of Canada, have fallen by 20 percent over last 10 years,” Jim Goetz, president of the Canadian Beverage Association, said. “We will continue to make public commitments such as Balance Calories and Clear on Calories to drive positive change.”

Give them what they want
Across North America and the world, health and wellness remains a top trend. Eighty-three percent of North American respondents surveyed by Nielsen reported changing their diet as a weight loss measure, exceeding the global average by eight percent. The same survey found that “natural foods with beneficial ingredients are most desirable.” If consumers continue to crave healthier food and beverage options and lawmakers continue to draft regulations punishing “unhealthy” foods, why not kill two birds with one stone?
One such brand that has jumped on this trend is Bössi, a boxed rooibos tea company. Marketed as “a delicious and nutritious alternative to sugary juices and soft drinks,” the brand recently launched three teas that fill a white space in the market for healthy teas for children. Juice brands including Apple & Eve, Hydrafruit, and Honest Kids among others also stand out on the shelf with sugar-related information printed on the front of the package: “no sugar added” (Apple & Eve Organics), “sweetened with organic fruit juice” (Honest Kids) and “no sugar or sweetener added” (Hydrafruit).

Regulations are a fact of life in the food and beverage industry. They aren’t going away. The good news is brands have the power to be proactive about their business by spearheading industry initiatives for balanced diets, tracking consumer trends and launching new products to suit. To learn about how to efficiently and effectively test new product formulations, check out our blog post on pilot plants, and stay tuned for more on how new products go from the drawing board to the store shelf.

 
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