12 October 2017
by Tetra Pak Editorial Team
In response to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) pressure to curb consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to fight noncommunicable diseases such as obesity and diabetes, we have seen an increasing number of discussions and policies regulating such beverages. A case in point is Chile, home to both the world’s highest per capita consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) and highest rate of diabetes. As such, Chilean diets have been under a legislative microscope for the past several years with lawmakers working to draw a line between “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods. Many new labeling laws impacting Chilean food and beverage companies have resulted from these discussions, helping us learn from their experiences and anticipate what may impact our market in the second installment of our SSB series.

One such law affecting front-of-package labels was passed in June 2015 and took effect 12 months later. It requires products high in sugar, calories, sodium or saturated fat to bear a warning sign from the Ministry of Health. For the beverage industry, SSBs exceeding five grams of added sugar per 100 milliliters must include these signs on their labels.

Beverage brands that didn’t want their products to be negatively impacted by these regulations stayed on top of this and other requirements possibly affecting their product and public perception. In the end, many chose to reformulate existing drinks and use these laws as an opportunity to release new products.

Time was of the essence for brands going through the reformulation or new product launch route. Retailers wanted new products in their stores six months ahead of the June 2016 deadline for new labels. With 80 percent of beverage sales going through retail channels, being “late” to release a new product could result in losing market share.

Savvy brands such as Watts, Soprole and Danone marketed the benefit of not having any warning signs on their products. All inserted “free of warning signs” messaging across their social media channels, making it easy for consumers to associate their brands with “healthy” eating.

One year after the labeling law passed and six months after its implementation, the Ministry of Health shared survey results* clearly showing how quickly consumers formed new opinions about the grocery items they buy, and adapted their shopping habits accordingly:
  • 92 percent of consumers believe that the “high in” warning sign requirement is a good measure
  • 67 percent of consumers now choose products with fewer warning signs
The ministry also released a video of children choosing between “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods. One newly released beverage in a Tetra Brik Aseptic Slim 200 package was deemed “healthy” by the children in the video, showing how brands can make (healthier) lemonade from the lemons of labeling laws.

These early findings suggest that the new law is helping people of all ages making healthier food choices, which will certainly be of interest to other countries considering similar measures. Nielsen data also supports this conclusion with a market basket drop of 1.5 percent in products with warning signs on their labels, and a 6.5 percent increase in those without.

If you missed the first part of our SSB series showing the global discussion on SSBs, click here.

If you would like to learn how Tetra Pak supported brands in Chile through their reformulation process, please contact us.
* Source: research by Universidad del Chile, December 2016

Like being in the know?
Subscribe to Ideas Unpacked and receive our weekly newsletter packed with food and beverage industry insights.
Share on Social:

<< Back