EconomyThe Warning Labeling Law two years after its launch

The Warning Labeling Law two years after its launch

(Expansion) – Two years ago, Mexico implemented NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010, better known as the Frontal Labeling Law or Warning Labeling Law. This would force food and beverage companies to include labeling on the packaging of their products indicating the high content of sodium, sugars and fats, among others.

In addition, it limited the traditional communication strategy of various brands by restricting the use of animated characters on packaging.

How has NOM-051 fared?

Let us remember that at the time the rule was widely applauded by various actors such as Unicef and the Pan American Health Organization; however, after two years the results seem debatable.

The success of the initiative must be analyzed from two perspectives. First, from the level of adoption of the standard by the consumer, which would mean a change in consumption habits as a result of the stamps. And second, from its ability to integrate into a much broader ecosystem of good nutritional practices.

In light of these two points, and after understanding that the consumption of foods and beverages with seals did not contract in Mexico, the standard alone has not achieved its objective of positively impacting the health of Mexicans.

Timing and forms have been key to the outcome of the initiative.

Prior to the entry into force of the standard, there was concern and interest on the part of the consumer to have a better understanding of the nutritional information of foods. For example, studies indicated that 13% of consumers would abandon the purchase of products with seals and 74% would review the nutritional information to determine if they would maintain or reduce their consumption.

However, the pandemic and confinement came to drastically change the concerns within households, prioritizing employment and economic security, health and hygiene, and changing habits due to confinement (more consumption at home and more time in the kitchen ).

In terms of forms, the high saturation of stamps on the shelves (physical or virtual) negatively affects the initiative, since it seems that there are not enough healthy options in most product categories; At the end of the day, the products that represent the bulk of food and beverage sales have seals (more than 90%).

Is there a silver lining to the Front Labeling Act?

The consumer has developed greater awareness about the nutritional quality of certain product categories. In some cases, reformulating and removing seals from packaging has led to higher purchase intent; however, it cannot be generalized.

Thus, the challenge for the industry is to understand the differences between categories, brands and products in order to develop strategies and address this transformation of consumption by reformulating, repositioning and innovating.

About the future of NOM-051

No one has a crystal ball to know for sure the future of NOM 051. In the medium term, the Labeling Law will continue to face an adverse environment, where high inflation and loss of purchasing power will hardly favor the growth of products with a high nutritional value.

Today, 85% of the packaged food categories have increased their prices per kilo/liter, several of them doing so above inflation and already double digits. Healthy and functional products have an average price above the average for their category; they are, for the most part, cataloged as premium, being little accessible for the majority of the population.

In my opinion, there is still much to be done to have better nutrition in Mexico; however, I am confident that industry, consumers and government will be able to work together to achieve it. Or what do you think?

Editor’s note: Juan Carlos Jouve is Director of Customer Service for the Worldpanel Division of Kantar Mexico. Follow him on . The opinions published in this column belong exclusively to the author.

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