from Kath Atkinson, marketing communications manager, Alcan
Sir; Following the significant national interest in the Food Standards Agency's proposed traffic light system, and the debate it has spurred among the grocery trade and manufacturers regarding alternative formats, I think consideration should be given to how such legislation will affect food packaging and its current use in brand promotion.
With most brand owners leveraging the promotional properties of packaging and utilising it as a sales driver, such legislation could prove critical to brand success. While subtle or cleverly applied labelling of health advantages can prompt consumer selection, confused messaging and inconsistent signage could prove detrimental, acting as a barrier to consumers rather than a benefit.
Should legislation around food labelling and content warnings escalate the way it has within the tobacco industry, brand owners could soon find they have lost a valuable marketing tool - their point of sale promotion. If nutritional information becomes a required percentage of a pack's design, on-shelf differentiation will be difficult to establish and owners will need to look at alternative, more costly solutions to keep their brand at the forefront of the consumer's mind.
Surely, an amicable single standard can be agreed upon. If not, brand owners may be at the mercy of government legislation - and suffering as a result.