The food challenge - how can one achieve greater transparency? - Amundi

What do we really eat? What information do labels give us? Do they tell us everything? Are companies really being transparent?

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... This study by Amundi addresses the above issues at a time when we see three important trends emerging in the market:

1. The gradual implementation of stringent regulations, such as the EU’s INCO (Information to Consumers) regulation: The regulation introduces mandatory nutrition declarations applying from 13 December 2016, in the form of a table placed on product packages and specifying the energy value and the quantities of fat, saturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, sugar, protein and salt. Another example is the new “Nutrition Facts” label made mandatory in the United States from 2018. In both cases, the logic is the same: to inform consumers and enable them to compare products.

2. A change in consumer behaviour: Consumers have become more demanding in terms of quality and transparency, as evidenced notably by the multiplication of labels offering a more restrictive framework than the regulatory framework on the use of additives, pesticides, or GMOs.

3. Warnings from scientists and NGOs about the hazardous nature of some products or practices: For example, studies showing a link between some sweeteners and hyperactivity in children, which led to a warning being put on labels in Europe but not in the United States. Conversely, other studies, notably those on aspartame, did not lead to any restrictions by the health authorities, whether in Europe or the United States.

How do companies integrate these changes? Are these risks and/or opportunities? This study aims to address these questions by deciphering the information on the packaging, providing a preliminary clarification on the regulatory context and health risks.

Date of publication: October 2017

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