More than just a traffic-light – A complex future for food labelling

Whether it’s the alphabet, a traffic light or even a battery, European consumers will have come across one of a myriad of food scoring systems across the EU in past years. As the European Commission moves to harmonize systems across the EU the conversation has become even more complex. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a change in food purchasing habits, as consumers looked for ways to support local manufacturers in a time of solidarity and economic struggle. Climate, health, and sustainability have all become part of the new picture, and one that companies, and retailers have just as quickly moved to signpost with labelling.

Nutritional labelling remains the focus for now, however its very premise– to signpost healthier options – remains challenging to implement. Different systems favour some ingredients over others, sugar replacements score high, naturally occurring fats perhaps less so, and they aren’t always compatible with other origin labelling systems. The
path towards harmonised labelling across the 27 Member States remains undecided.

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Authors: Maya Doneva, Antoine Mialhe, Astrid Soriano, and Zachary Burnside from FTI Consulting Brussels, Guillaume Granier and Louison Lerein from FTI Consulting France and Juan Rivera from FTI Consulting Madrid.

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