Are we clear on GMO labeling?
The issue of how to identify GMO ingredients on food packaging seems to finally be “resolved” as the Federal government has stepped in to preclude each state from adopting their own laws. Some questions remain — whether you’ll need to identify refined products such as soy oil or beet sugar that come from GMO crops — but, for the most part, we have a path forward. The USDA has 2 years to figure out the details and finalize the disclosure standard but, for now, it’s looking like we have these options:
- Put GMO disclaimer text/symbol on package — this is what the Vermont law required.
- Place a QR code that would link consumers to a web site with the GMO information.
- Print a URL or a phone number for customers to get the info — this applies only to “small companies but I’ve yet to find out just what’s defined as small.
As with most compromises, no side is claiming victory and each is quick to point out how this legislation falls short of an optimal solution. And while by no means perfect, we can at least start to communicate to consumers about what is and isn’t in the products sitting in their carts.
And to us, that communication is key because, right now, there’s a lot of confusion. A recent University of Florida study (http://fred.ifas.ufl.edu/news/gmo-knowledge-gap/) points out that 84% supported legislation requiring foods containing GMOs to be clearly labeled and 80% of consumers want food containing DNA labeled. Think about that for a second and it’s easy to see how consumers need help in understanding the issue.
We’re not scientists so we’re not here to weigh in on whether GMOs represent a risk or a benefit to humankind. What we do know is that today’s consumers want transparency and that means giving them information. Give them the facts and let the market decide whether or not to reach for a particular product.
Regardless of the form they take, mandated changes to labeling are certain to stress the people in charge of packaging and so companies need to map out their strategies. Our suggestions:
- Consider your options in the context of what your buying public wants and then look at how to implement on pack. For example, if you opt to go the route of putting QR codes, you obviously have to figure out if you have the real estate. If you’re a product that skews towards millennials, it’s almost a certainty that they understand how to scan a QR code. If your target market is older, you may opt for something printed on pack.
- Don’t do this piecemeal. We understand that inventory levels of existing packaging need to be exhausted before you start printing but having all the art done in advance maximizes your flexibility and ensures continuity of your brand message.
- Since you’re going to be touching all the SKUs in your portfolio, this as an opportunity to harmonize your brand graphics and align your messaging. Now is the time to take stock of your brand identity, refresh your look and fix any disconnects.
If you’re interested in more information, here are some links to recent articles on the topic of GMO guidelines and their impact:
For more information on how WEG is helping brands take control of their packaging, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
I guess every industry has their “the sky is falling” moments. For those of us in consumer packaging, it’s looking like the recently announced changes to the the Nutrition Facts panel is ours.
We’ve sat down and reviewed an outline of the legislation (well, Don actually downloaded the entire document and thinks we should all read it cover to cover) and, frankly, if you look at it simply for the changes to the Nutrition Facts panel, we’re not seeing it as that big a deal.
From a graphics standpoint, the new panel is the same size as the old one which means that, in most cases, it’s a simple one color change to your packaging. Sure, there’s work to be done to compile the new data, get it into your CMS and then out to your graphics partner. And yes, you still need to coordinate the effort to get the changes made, which means your supply chain partners need to be informed and involved but, all in all, it’s pretty straightforward.
When you consider that you’re going to have to “touch” every SKU in your product line up, it doesn’t quite qualify as an easy effort but we think, in a lot of cases, it’ll fall well short of the seismic event others are predicting.
That said, given the competitive nature of the FMCG sector, this might be the perfect opportunity to invest in your brands. For many companies, their portfolios are a mix of home-grown and acquired brands that are often out of sync from a graphics standpoint.
Normalizing your packaging at this time makes sense given that you’re going to have to work on every SKU and so it’s also an opportunity to:
- Consider your color palettes. Reducing the number of colors used across your brands not only gives you consistency but it could also save you big dollars on your printing costs. If you think it might be appropriate, consider which brands can leverage Extended Gamut Printing.
- Build out your asset libraries. You spend a lot of time and money on your graphics and this is the perfect opportunity to inventory what you have and get it into a DAM or CMS.
- Standardize your structures. It’s not uncommon for brands to have die lines that vary by fractions of an inch.
For more information on how to get through this upcoming label change, please contact me at email@example.com.
Up until a few years ago, we all figured consumer behavior was driven by what’s known as the First Moment of Truth (FMOT).
For those of us in packaging, it went a long way towards justifying our obsession with color and graphics. You need shelf appeal, your graphics need to convey benefits and on and on we went. We regularly trotted out a common statistic – that 85% of purchase decisions are made at shelf – to reinforce our position. If a package didn’t look quite right or the something didn’t catch a consumer’s eye, there was a good chance they’d reach for something else we dutifully told our clients.
For the most part, all this still holds very true. But today, while buying potato chips from Amazon, it was clear that times are changing.
For me, there was no physical interaction with a product in a store, no picking up and reading romance copy. Instead, I looked at some reviews and settled on a brand that came in the sizes I wanted, at a price I liked and where free shipping was offered. Frankly, they could have come in plain old generic package of big black Helvetica type on a white bag and I still would have put them in my cart.
Google saw this was happening and came up with their own variation on FMOT – the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) which is essentially what I did today: research, compare and buy on line. I’ll leave the implications that ZMOT will have on retail, demand management, data-driven insights etc. to others but the impact could have on packaging as a differentiator is obvious.
With ZMOT – there’s no shelf set to stare at and no product to pick up. Print quality – don’t worry about it. Catchy graphics – meh. What matters is the general consensus about quality, the value it represents and how convenient it is to get. Here are some stats from Google’s 2011 study:
- 50 percent of shoppers used a search engine to research a product or brand.
- 38 percent comparison shopped online (reviews, prices and so on).
- 36 percent checked out the brand/manufacturer’s website.
- 31 percent read online endorsements, reviews or recommendations.
Now, we’re a long way from the total abandonment of the retail model and you still need to drive trial to get those positive reviews written. For now, your packaging is still a key component of your brand identity but I can’t help but think that we’re rapidly approaching a world where what your packaging looks like on shelf matters a lot less than how many 4 star reviews you have on Amazon.
For more info, visit https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/collections/zero-moment-truth.html)
Yes, we are West Essex Graphics Inc.
For over 60 years, West Essex Graphics has been dedicated to providing Brand Owners and Printers with graphics services that bring out the best in their packaging projects. From color management, production services and workflow support, WEG has the resources and expertise to streamline the packaging process and deliver consistent results to make you look your best on shelf.
With innovative graphics solutions that help brand owners
Starting with package design all the way through to print tools, our integrated model moves you seamlessly from one stage to the next and provides the advantages of:
- A single point of accountability
- Greater control over brand assets
- Consistency across all packaging and promotional programs
- Streamlined communication through the entire supply chain
We’re about providing the ultimate
Packaging isn’t easy as even the simplest project involves a range of stakeholders who need information and guidance to keep things moving in the right direction. To accomplish this, WEG customizes our account management to meet your specific needs – up to and including providing on-site support at your facility.