The government today revealed plans for a new hybrid system of front-of-pack labelling, including traffic lights and colour-coded GDAs, to be in place by the summer of 2013, after hailing an agreement by supermarkets and suppliers to work on producing a unified system.

Public Health minister Anna Soubry said the new labels, which would also include the words high, medium or low to indicate levels of fat, sugar and salt in products, would bring an end to confusion among consumers who currently face a wide variety of different systems.

Since The Grocer exclusively revealed in May that the DH wanted to bring in a unified system of labelling, a wave of supermarkets, including Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl, have dropped their opposition to traffic lights.

Today the FDF said it was “actively engaged” in the negotiations on what the new system will look like, with talks to be held in Westminister tomorrow to start to negotiate the details of how it could work.

Soubry said she “congratulated” supermarkets and suppliers for agreeing to work together on the new system, which would be voluntary, adding: “The UK already has the largest number of products with front-of-pack labels in Europe, but research has shown that consumers get confused by the wide variety of labels used.

“By having a consistent system we will all be able to see at a glance what is in our food. This will help us all choose healthier options and control our calorie intake.”

Barbara Gallani, director of food safety and science at the FDF, said: “The UK has led the way in developing approaches to front-of-pack labelling and FDF members have voluntarily provided this information for many years.

“Per portion %GDA information, which in many cases have been implemented consistently across Europe, helps consumers put the food they eat in the context of their overall diet. Our members are committed to continuing to provide clear nutrition information to consumers and we will be actively engaged in further discussions with the Department of Health following today’s announcement.”