FSSAI to introduce ‘Front of Package label’ in India

Indian regulations on junk food consumption

Customers using FoP labels to make choices at the supermarket. Photo Melanie Lim on Unsplash

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) recently revealed plans to launch front-of-package (FoP) labeling in the country to curb the widespread consumption of junk food and assist users in choosing healthier alternatives. The front-of-package labeling is a nutritional marking system that involves the display of nutritional information of the food product(s) contained clearly at the front of the pack. FoP labeling practice has recently been adopted by many countries across the globe such as Chile and Brazil.

The Indian processed food market is said to be worth Rs 3,31,353 crore (approximately US$ 48 billion) and with a 24% year-on-year growth. (While the based figure is likely to be an underestimate, the growth figure is probably nominal including inflation.) Urbanization, globalization, affordability, marked rise in per capita income, evolving snacking habits due to the Covid-19 pandemic are cited as the primary reasons for both the fast growth and the increasing health concerns.

From the back to the front-of-package

According to the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labeling) Regulations 2011 being practiced in our country, it is mandatory to provide nutritional data on a processed food package. This nutritional labeling of pre-packaged food items is done on the back or sides of the packet and excludes mention of salt content.

The FSSAI recently celebrated the 15th year of its formation and its chief executive officer Arun Singhal aired his concerns regarding the rising intake of junk food – resulting in obesity in children and adolescents across the country. The food regulatory body has contacted IIM Ahmedabad to research FoP labels in India. FoP labels endeavor to supply simple nutritional information in a more convenient position at the front of the package rather than the back or sides.

Singhal stated that the Indian food safety organization is adept at introducing FoP labels in the nation, which have become indispensable due to the skyrocketing figures for obesity and malnutrition among kids and teenagers in India. He also highlighted the benefits of FoP information systems, citing the adoption of FoP labeling systems by various countries that have observed a significant decline in the prevalence of these food-related afflictions.

He said that, “While there is a rise in demand for packaged food, there is a need to provide information in a simple way about the impact of packaged food on health so that consumers can make choices, adding, “The technical issues have been settled, but only one issue is left, that is, the nature of the FoP label. For this, IIM Ahmedabad has been asked to conduct a survey.’

Singhal concluded that IIM has initiated its study and the decisive norms will be formulated upon submission of the findings.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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