Are the New FDA Nutritional Labeling Rules an Opportunity for Your Brand?

By now, every food and beverage brand manager knows that new FDA rules regarding nutritional labeling kick in this coming July on brands over $10 million in annual sales. On the surface it all seems pretty straightforward. The new nutritional panel will have a bolder, highlighted calorie count, which now appears even larger than the Nutrition Facts header. And there’s a newly introduced requirement for companies to list added sugars and to revise serving sizes.

“The goal is to better reflect what people are actually eating and drinking in one sitting,” says Mike Goefft, DDW Managing Director. On sodas, serving sizes will go from 8 to 12 ounces, and ice cream will increase from 1/2 cup per serving to 2/3 cup. The new rules have caused some head spinning at the Sugar Association and the beverage industry. And consumers will have to get used to the reality of all the calories they’ve been unknowingly consuming.

Marketers should use the new FDA rules regarding nutritional labeling as an opportunity to overhaul their package designs.

Ross Patrick, Executive Creative Director at DDW says, “Overall, the new guidelines are not only a welcome change from a health advocacy standpoint but also a marketing opportunity for brands. Many of our clients are taking this a step further to not only comply with the FDA but make some long overdue improvements to their packaging and label designs.”

Let’s face it, your current packaging might need only a slight optimization of your current brand look and feel to be refreshed. But in some cases, a total overhaul is needed to compete against the evolving consumer preferences.

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You might be moving your brand into new markets which can trigger the opportunity to reinvent your brand. Staying fresh and relevant is a key consideration and because so many new brands are emerging, creating more competition, your brand might be in need of an update. In many cases, maintaining brand equity is an important consideration when looking at the competitive landscape and your consumer base. You might not need to completely change your look and feel in order to breath a fresh look into an existing product packaging design.

Sometimes a revolution is necessary in order to differentiate your brand you’re your competitors. The new digital consumer has access to more products and is on the lookout for unique brands. Brands also need to reconsider ingredients, messaging and other trends like non GMO, USDA Organic and Gluten Free offerings.

“After all,” says Patrick, “adjusting nutritional labels means creating new packaging art. And if you’re going to do that, why not seize the opportunity to refresh all sides of your package?.”

Manufacturers will need to use the new label by July 26, 2018. However, manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply.


The updated nutrition facts label should follow these key points:

1. Features a Refreshed Design

  • The “iconic” look of the label remains, but we are making important updates to ensure consumers have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about the foods they eat. These changes include increasing the type size for “Calories,” “servings per container,” and the “Serving size” declaration, and bolding the number of calories and the “Serving size” declaration to highlight this information.
  • Manufacturers must declare the actual amount, in addition to percent Daily Value of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. They can voluntarily declare the gram amount for other vitamins and minerals.
  • The footnote is changing to better explain what percent Daily Value means. It will read: “*The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”

2. Reflects Updated Information about Nutrition Science

  • “Added sugars,” in grams and as percent Daily Value, will be included on the label. Scientific data shows that it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugar, and this is consistent with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • The list of nutrients that are required or permitted to be declared is being updated. Vitamin D and potassium will be required on the label. Calcium and iron will continue to be required. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required but can be included on a voluntary basis.
  • While continuing to require “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” on the label, “Calories from Fat” is being removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.
  • Daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D are being updated based on newer scientific evidence from the Institute of Medicine and other reports such as the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, which was used in developing the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Daily values are reference amounts of nutrients to consume or not to exceed and are used to calculate the percent Daily Value (% DV) that manufacturers include on the label. The %DV helps consumers understand the nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet.

3. Updates Serving Sizes and Labeling Requirements for Certain Package Sizes

  • By law, serving sizes must be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. How much people eat and drink has changed since the previous serving size requirements were published in 1993. For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously ½ cup but is changing to â…” cup. The reference amount used to set a serving of soda is changing from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.
  • Package size affects what people eat. So for packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20 ounce soda or a 15-ounce can of soup, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.
  • For certain products that are larger than a single serving but that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings, manufacturers will have to provide “dual column” labels to indicate the amount of calories and nutrients on both a “per serving” and “per package”/“per unit” basis. Examples would be a 24-ounce bottle of soda or a pint of ice cream. With dual-column labels available, people will be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package/unit at one time.

About DDW

DDW is a San Francisco-based design firm with 20+ years of experience helping clients create deep brand stories and fresh brand design. Current clients include Anheuser-Busch, Alcatel, Big Heart Pet Brands, Campbell’s, Energizer, Sprint, Seattle’s Best Coffee, The Men’s Wearhouse, and The Non-GMO Project and several other undisclosed assignments.

About the FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is committed to helping deliver innovative, safe, and effective treatments and cures to the patients who need them as quickly as possible. To achieve this goal, we have implemented a variety of expedited review programs and are working to help shorten the development time before a product is even submitted for FDA review.