The changes to food labelling that come into force in December are to be welcomed if they improve customer confidence.
It’s important to keep the public informed of what they’re eating, and it’s a priority from a health perspective. It’s also hugely positive for business if consumers are aware of the nutritional content of food.
But there is a bigger question here that needs to be addressed: even if the labels are bigger, clearer and indicate how many preservatives and additives a product has, will consumers understand them?
There is a clear need to ensure shoppers are able to make choices based on the information on the packaging. But to do this, producers and the public need the support of partners.
I am an ambassador for the Welsh Food and Drink Skills Project, which has set out an ambitious, long-term plan to ensure the correct information is communicated to consumers. The project not only provides the necessary training for businesses to make sure they are meeting the legal requirements, it also proactively engages with the public to ensure people understand the labelling they encounter on food and drink packaging.
For instance, at the recent Spring Festival at the Royal Welsh show ground, Builth Wells, the changes in the regulations were brought to visitors’ attention through a fun quiz in which people were asked to spot the key differences between food labels now and post December. The quiz highlighted the bold font sizes that stress allergens and how the nutritional information was split into categories and listed.
This was all a bit of fun and importantly allowed one lucky winner to walk away with a hamper of delicious Welsh produce! But it also allowed the project team to inform consumers of the impending changes to labelling.
Producers can now access tailored training through the project to ensure they understand the legislation too. It’s in everyone’s interests that they do. Only by ensuring our food packaging is clear to all can we help consumers make informed decisions.
Llior Radford is marketing director of Llaeth y Llan Village dairy