The FDA has announced changes that will soon be made to the Nutrition Facts Label, but data from The NPD Group suggests that the new label may not have much influence on consumers.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced plans to overhaul the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods, and First Lady Michele Obama has voiced her support for the move. The revamp of the label is intended to make it a more useful tool for consumers, but a new report from The NPD Group has revealed that this change comes at a time when the percent of U.S. consumers who actually read the Nutrition Facts label is on the decline.
A decade ago 15% of consumers said that they do not look at the label and now 24% don’t, according to NPD’s ongoing food consumption research.
The FDA’s proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label, which hasn’t been updated for over 20 years, will require serving sizes on the label to reflect what, on average, consumers actually eat. The label will also, for the first time, list added sugars. About 20% of all package labels will be adjusted, according to the FDA. Food manufacturers have until July 2018 to comply with the new label rules. The FDA, which first proposed the rule in 2014, estimated at the time that the cost to the food industry to update the labels would be about $2 billion.
As for those consumers who do read the Nutrition Facts label, calories were for a long time the top item checked on its own, but adults are now checking first for sugars on the label and total calories are now a close second. Following sugars and calories, in rank order of importance, are sodium, total fat and total carbohydrates, reports NPD Dieting Monitor, which is an ongoing tracker that captures consumers’ dieting behavior and eating intentions.
“The reasons why more consumers are not looking at the labels are varied, but among the reasons is that the label hasn’t been updated in over 20 years. Additionally, consumers now have many more resources at their fingertips to research nutritional information,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “The fact that there is a new label and it will be more reflective of consumer interests and how they actually eat may recapture their interest.”