Singapore and Malaysia lead the way with voluntary GDA labelling roll-out

By Gary Scattergood contact

- Last updated on GMT

FIA says progress is being made around GDA labelling in Asia
FIA says progress is being made around GDA labelling in Asia

Related tags: Nutrition

‘Significant progress’ has been made in rolling-out voluntary Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) nutrition labelling in Asia over the past four years, but more work is needed to educate consumers and emphasise their benefits to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

According to Fast Facts on Packs​, Food Industry Asia’s (FIA) Guideline Daily Amounts Nutrition Labelling Report 2016​, of the 13 FIA members surveyed across 19 Asian markets, 11 had introduced GDA labelling, and most had done so across more product categories since the last survey in 2012.

Overall, FIA members have achieved 52% adoption growth in Asia and 58% in south east Asian countries since making a collective commitment to adopt a front-of-pack GDA labelling approach in 2010.

However, most of the progress has been made by the large, global players.

FIA executive director Matt Kovac said it was inevitable that MNCs would take the lead, and said the next challenge was to convince SMEs to follow suit, in order to better educate consumers and help combat obesity, type 2 diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.

“Choosing to adopt labels signifies a company’s responsibility and commitment towards helping consumers make better informed choices,”​ said Kovac.

He also maintained that GDAs provided the most straightforward approach to educating consumers, rejecting questions that the nutrition figures stated on pack may actually confuse consumers because they often refer to a recommended serving size and not the entire content of a product.

 “FIA members recognise the clear benefits of front-of-pack GDA labelling adoption: GDAs are factual, objective, science-based, and informative,”​ explained Kovac.

“GDA labelling is in line with FIA and members’ beliefs of having monochromatic, fact-based information to consumers. It is very straightforward and clear, which helps consumers make informed dietary choices.”

That said, the report makes clear there are still barriers and challenges to adopting GDA labelling in Asia.

“The main challenges include the need to harmonise GDA labelling across different countries in Asia, supply chain or logistical complexity and lack of consumer understanding of GDA labelling,”​ states the report.

Singapore top

The survey found that the adoption of GDA labelling is most prevalent in Singapore with 11 out of 13 FIA members using GDA labels for all or some SKUs

Malaysia comes in second where 10 members have rolled-out GDA labels

The Philippines has seen the most progress in GDA labelling since 2012; nine FIA members now have GDA labels for all or some SKUs compared to three members previously

Of the FIA members surveyed, Nestle, Mars, Kellogg, PepsiCo and Ferrero have rolled out GDAs in all Asian markets.

Fonterra, FrieslandCampina, Mondelez, Coca-Cola, General Mills and Unilever, which have adopted GDA labelling in some markets, have plans to further expand their current portfolios across all Asian markets, adds the report.

Hersheys and Lotte were the two members surveyed which currently don’t have GDA labelling in Asia.

Kovac said FIA now plans to implement a consumer-centric study in 2017, as well as launching an online nutrition centre to educate consumers.

“A study on regional sentiments towards general nutrition, dietary habits and how labelling plays an important role to educate consumers about making appropriate individual choices will provide FIA with valuable insights,” ​he said.

It also pledged to create more awareness of nutrition and GDA labelling through stronger collaborations with local food industry associations, small and medium F&B enterprises, food retailers, supermarket chains, schools, NGOs and policymakers. 

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