Guideline Daily Amount Labelling sees Significant Adoption Growth in Asia

Food Industry Asia (FIA) members have achieved 52 per cent implementation growth since making a collective commitment to adopt a front-of-pack Guideline Daily Amount (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.

Fast Facts on Packs, FIA’s Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) Nutrition Labelling Report 2016 that was released recently, 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.

The 2016 report is a follow-up of the first study conducted in 2012. It provides the industry with information on the progress of the GDA roll-out in the region as part of an industry commitment, as well as whether the adoption percentage of the labelling scheme has improved since the first study.

“The fact that we’ve seen such significant growth since our last survey in 2012, across more markets and more SKUs, is extremely encouraging and shows the food industry’s commitment to having a seat at the table and being part of the solution to tackle Asia’s growing obesity problem,” said Matt Kovac, Executive Director at FIA.

The report shows that 11 out of 13 FIA members that have participated in the study have adopted GDA labelling for all or partial SKUs in selected markets in Asia. Out of those 11 members, five have implemented FOP GDA labelling in all Asian markets they operate in, while six others have plans to expand GDA adoption in more Asian markets throughout 2016.

The results show that the adoption of GDA labelling is most prevalent in Singapore, with 11 out of 13 FIA members using GDA labels for all or some SKUs, while the next highest adoption rate has taken place in Malaysia, where 10 members have rolled out GDA labels. The Philippines has seen the most progress in GDA labelling since 2012 – nine FIA members now have GDA labels for all or some SKUs, compared to three members previously.

Three new markets have adopted FOP GDA labelling since 2012 – namely Laos, Bangladesh and Myanmar – according to the study. The results show that in the last few years, GDA labelling has become more prevalent across many markets in Southeast Asia, with the general trend pointing towards wider adoption among FIA members.

Penetration of FOP GDA labelling by product category is highest for confectionary products, together with non-alcoholic carbonated drinks, dairy products and ice cream, according to the report. Across these product categories, 10 FIA members have rolled out GDA labels.

Pointing to the research, Mr Kovac highlighted that the higher rate of GDA adoption in recent years coincides with commitments made by FIA members, who are also members of the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA). These companies have made global commitments to roll out GDA labelling in all markets they operate in by the end of 2016. Mr Kovac added that it is encouraging to see, from the report, that two non-IFBA members have adopted GDA labelling in all or selected markets in Asia, as part of their commitments to supporting appropriate eating choices by providing better consumer education on their products’ nutrition values.

“With incidents of obesity and non-communicable diseases on the rise in Asia, governments and food companies need to work in partnership to find the right balance between regulation and enhanced consumer education,” said Mr Kovac.

“Research has shown that it is the overall diet of an individual that impacts their health and wellness, and not the consumption of individual nutrients. The FOP GDA labelling system highlights the amount and percentage contribution of an average person’s daily intake, giving him or her a better understanding of how products should be consumed within a balanced diet and lifestyle. Science-based guidelines, such as the GDA scheme, give consumers an understanding of how a single food product contributes to a balanced diet, allowing them to make more informed choices,” he said.

Mr Kovac added that there has been an agreement from and with FIA members, regarding the need to strengthen nutrition labelling awareness and education among Asian consumers. Moving forward, FIA plans to implement a consumer-centric study in 2017, to canvass insights towards consumer behaviour and understanding of nutrition labelling. As part of the food industry’s commitment to educating consumers on better nutrition, FIA will develop and launch an online nutrition knowledge centre to offer consumers accessible, easy-to-understand information, starting with GDA labelling facts.

Click here for the Fast Facts on Packs report and here for an infographic on GDA labelling and the report's key findings.

Click here to watch a short video, Understanding GDA Nutrition Labelling, that seeks to help consumers better understand GDA nutrition labelling, in order to make healthier eating choices.

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