Fast Facts on Packs: The Importance of GDA Nutrition Labelling to Improve Nutrition Literacy

More than 80 participants representing local and multinational food and beverage companies in the Philippines recently attended the first of Food Industry Asia’s (FIA) workshops aimed at advocating the adoption of front-of-pack (FOP) Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) nutrition labelling.

The session, which was held as part of the General Member Meeting of the Philippine Food Chamber, saw YiFan Jiang, Regional Regulatory Affairs Manager at FIA, share findings from "Fast Facts on Packs", FIA’s 2016 Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) nutrition labelling report, which was released recently, as well as FIA’s industry toolkit on GDAs with participants.

YiFan Jiang, FIA's Regional Regulatory Affairs Manager addresses the audience at​ the
General Membership Meeting of the Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers

Ms Jiang explained to participants that the report shows that the Philippines has seen the most progress in adopting GDA labelling on food packaging, with a 200 per cent increase in the country’s GDA label adoption since 2012. Nine out of 13 FIA members have adopted GDA labelling for all or some SKUs, compared to three members in the previously conducted survey.

Among the product categories, dairy has seen the highest penetration rate (45%) in GDA labelling, with PepsiCo, Nestlé, Mondelēz International, FrieslandCampina and Fonterra implementing, or having plans to implement, GDA labels for their dairy products.

In her presentation, Ms Jiang said that GDA labelling has become more common across many markets in Southeast Asia in recent years, due to its immediate benefit of helping consumers make informed dietary choices.

To support companies with their adoption of GDA labelling, Ms Jiang shared FIA’s "Industry Guideline & Toolkit: Voluntary Front-of Pack Nutrition Labelling for the Food & Beverage Industry in Asia" with the attendees. This document has been developed by FIA as a practical resource to assist companies with the implementation of voluntary FOP nutrition labelling.

Strengthening nutrition labelling awareness is important in the Philippines due to the growing prevalence of obesity. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Philippines, like many developing countries, faces the challenge of a high obesity rate among its population. A 2011 survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) showed that 22.3% of Filipino adults are overweight and 6.1% are obese; the number of overweight Filipinos is expected to increase.

Steven Bartholomeusz, FIA's Head of Advocacy and Communications, shares about FIA's strategic pillars
at​ the General Membership Meeting of the Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers

“FIA members in the Philippines recognise the clear benefits of front-of-pack GDA labelling adoption. GDAs that are factual, objective, science-based and informative help consumers to make informed dietary choices, and play a key role in addressing the prevalence of obesity and non-communicable diseases in the Philippines,” said Matt Kovac, Executive Director at FIA.

Meanwhile, FIA met with the FTI Food Club, including FIA members in Thailand, to share the results of the Fast Facts on Packs report, and discuss GDAs and the learnings from the mandatory labelling system in Thailand. Both FIA and FTI agreed on the need to educate consumers about nutrition, with labelling forming an important component of such a nutrition education programme.

As FIA continues to socialise the importance of GDAs, Mr Kovac appeared on First Look Asia, Channel NewsAsia's breakfast programme, to discuss GDA labelling. Mr Kovac explained how an FOP GDA label works, and highlighted the increasing penetration and awareness rates of GDA labelling across Asia, industry and government initiatives to educate and promote understanding among consumers, as well as the related benefits for both consumers and companies, such as transparency and trade harmonisation.

Matt Kovac, FIA's Executive Director, shares about Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) nutrition labelling during a live broadcast
with Teresa Tang and Lance Alexander, hosts of First Look Asia, Channels NewsAsia's breakfast programme

 The Fast Facts on Packs report reveals that significant progress has been made in driving availability and awareness of GDA nutrition labelling. Survey findings show that out of the 13 FIA members surveyed across 19 Asian markets, 85 per cent had rolled out GDA labelling, and in many more different types of product categories.

FIA member companies have achieved 52 per cent implementation growth since making a collective commitment to adopt an FOP GDA labelling approach in Asian markets, as one of many industry-led initiatives to tackle the growing incidence of obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the region, according to a study conducted earlier this year.

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