Main menu


What is the future of food labeling?Current evidence for front-of-pack nutrition labeling

featured image

As part of its farm-to-table strategy, the European Commission will introduce mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labeling in the European Union (SeeEU”) by the end of the year. Prior to this, the European Commission’s Collaborative Research Center (“JRC) recently published the results of four scientific studies related to providing food information to consumers. This study aims to analyze what is currently on the market for labeling alcoholic beverages, as well as to synthesize the current evidence for front-of-pack nutrition labeling. The results complement previous public consultations by the European Commission in relation to a number of initiatives to amend EU legislation on food information to consumers.

Nutrition label on front of package

The first study involved front-of-package labeling, and the results suggest a move to mandatory labeling schemes.

  • Consumers generally appreciate nutrition labeling on the front of packages as a quick and easy way to obtain nutritional information when making purchasing decisions.

  • Less complicated labels require less attention and time.

  • Consumers seem to prefer simple, colorful, evaluative summary front labels that are easier to understand.

  • Front-of-pack nutrition labeling can guide consumers to a healthier diet.

  • Nutrition labeling on the front of packages appears to motivate food companies to improve the nutritional quality of their products, for example by reducing the amount of salt and sugar added.

Liquor display

Currently, alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content of 1.2% or more are exempted from the obligation to display ingredients and nutritional information. Companies can choose to do this voluntarily, and a JRC study found:

  • Voluntary contributions of nutritional information are generally displayed by industry. Most beer labels (about 90%) include ingredients, and to a lesser extent energy information (about 25-50%).

  • Information about raw materials and energy is rarely found in spirits and rarely in wine products.

  • Labels that redirect consumers to off-label ingredients or nutritional information are uncommon.

Food information by means other than labels, including digital means

The JRC also considered other avenues of available food information and how these influenced consumer choices.

  • Direct access to market food information, such as menu labels, shelf labels and point-of-sale signs, is effective in influencing consumers towards healthy behavior.

  • Food information must be directly visible on the market to be able to influence consumers when it is not on the food packaging.

  • Further research comparing food information provision through labels and digital means is needed.

country of origin indication

A final study examined the impact of food information origin and how this influences decision-making.

  • Information about both country of origin and country of origin has a significant impact on consumer food choices.

  • Consumers value origin information as clues to high-quality, ‘green’ products and, on average, have a desire to support local farmers.

  • When shopping, consumers may pay less attention to provenance information than they would like (because of time pressure, brand appeal, etc.).


The results provide an interesting overview of the general direction food labeling may be heading in the EU, with the European Commission now introducing mandatory front-of-pack labeling, which is finally planned. We confirm that it will be used to notify you of suggestions to do so. Future EU changes are therefore likely to include not only nutrition information, but also country of origin indications and mandatory requirements for adding ingredients to labels for alcoholic beverage products. Research also shows that how information is displayed is very important. This is consistent with recent criticisms and revisions of the ‘Nutri-Score’ labeling algorithm, especially in relation to sugar content assessment.

In the UK, front-of-pack nutrition labeling remains voluntary and this does not appear to change anytime soon. We have initiated discussions on front-of-pack nutrition labeling, with the aim of collecting , but have not yet publicly released feedback and have not taken this initiative further. Probably because I think the current approach is good. This seems to contrast with the findings of a recent study conducted by Nestlé Cereal. The survey found that 34% of his UK consumers didn’t know what the nutrition labeling system on the front of a traffic light package meant, and 11% said they didn’t. I am even aware of its existence.

On the other hand, other regions seem to be focusing on providing food information to consumers. From April this year, calorie labeling on menus for businesses with 250 or more employees has become mandatory (calorie labeling – considerations for food business operators (, placement, price, and online distribution of high-calorie foods Restrictions on Sale of Fats, Sugars, and Salts are due to come into effect from October 2022 (although there are currently reports of political will to scrap the initiative).

There is also a movement to provide sustainability information on food labels with the aim of helping consumers make informed choices. In our previous Law-Now article, What is the Future of Food Labeling? Voluntary Sustainability Food Labeling Pilots and Proposed Indicators, we explored how various initiatives are related to food sustainability labeling. and put pressure on the UK government to provide a standardized form of sustainability labeling and introduce a more harmonized approach. , was a voluntary pilot scheme initiated by Foundation Earth. This allowed food businesses to include an ‘eco-score’ on food labels. Since then, Foundation Earth has published his year-long learnings from the initiative, stating that on-pack labels are the ultimate way to achieve transparency for consumers, and consumers see great value in independent verification of ecolabels. I conclude that I put For the time being, UK food sustainability labeling will remain voluntary, but a standardized form of sustainability labeling appears to be on the horizon. This follows a general trend in other product categories. In the UK, energy labeling requirements will apply to an expanded range of non-food products from 2021, and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recently launched consultations on mandatory water efficiency. Labeling of certain non-food products.

Food businesses should therefore closely follow developments in this area at both UK and EU level and contribute to future consultations to ensure that the revised labeling requirements are satisfactory for their products. is needed.

This article was co-authored by Alexandra Brown, an apprentice attorney at CMS.