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Kellogg SA introduces front-of-pack GDAs

Kellogg SA is piloting user-friendly, front-of-pack (FoP) Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) labelling in South Africa.

Consumers will now see five key nutritional values displayed clearly on the front of  Kellogg’s cereal boxes, courtesy of the user-friendly, front-of-pack (FoP) Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) labelling tool Kellogg is piloting in South Africa. This tool aims to help consumers make informed purchasing decisions at a glance, and, judging by its success abroad, could dramatically help consumers achieve a balanced diet and improve nutritional literacy in the country.

“GDAs are an easy-reference tool summarising the traditional ‘small print’ nutritional information panel on the side or back of food packs,” says Linda Dell, registered dietitian at Kellogg Company South Africa. “GDA (Guideline Daily Amount) labels declare the levels of kilojoules, sugars, fat, saturates and salt contained in a suggested serving, along with the percentage GDA this constitutes for each nutrient.”

Why Guideline Daily Amounts?

Shoppers are increasingly concerned about the nutritional value of their food – 80% of South Africans read nutrition labels some or all of the time(1). Kellogg’s made the decision to launch the GDA labelling scheme in South Africa in response to consumer demand for at-a-glance information to inform dietary choices.

“GDA labels provide a snapshot of relevant information to help consumers understand the nutritional contributions of a serving of food, based on the typical needs of an adult woman of average weight and fitness levels,” says Gaynor Bussell, registered dietitian at the Food and Drink Federation in the United Kingdom (UK) and guest speaker at the 2008 National Nutrition Congress, who played a pivotal role in the technical development of GDAs. “Bringing these facts to the front of the pack makes it quick and simple to make informed purchasing decisions based on scientifically sound information.”

GDA labelling is an empowering system, based on facts which is free from marketing-speak or prescription. “GDAs give consumers information, not rules,” says Dell. “Food is a complex matrix of nutrients, and no one food can satisfy every nutritional need. GDAs aim to give consumers straightforward facts, allowing them to make their own decisions about how to achieve a balanced diet with the foods they eat.”

Kellogg first pioneered GDA labelling in the UK, followed by the rest of Europe, Australia and the US and now in Korea and Mexico. In the UK the approach has been enthusiastically adopted – close to 90% of UK shoppers want to see GDAs on a wider range of foods(1). Europe’s top food manufacturers have been displaying GDAs for energy and four key nutrients for the last two years, after a joint commitment in July 2006 to provide consumers with more meaningful and consistent nutritional information. A year later, the GDA programme took off in the United States, where consumers judged GDAs to be the clearest and most helpful format for FoP nutritional labelling(2).

Now, South African consumers will be able to see the benefits of this voluntary initiative – and research suggests it’s about time; Sixty-five percent of South Africans feel that conventional labels should be made easier to understand(3), and consumers often find the standard nutritional information panel confusing. In one local study, only one in six shoppers could identify a high-energy food from the nutrient label – even though energy content was their primary reason for reading it(3).

Eventually, consumers may see consistent application of GDA labelling across the supermarket shelf. “South African food industries are currently working together to have GDAs consistently applied across a range of foods in an effort to help consumers make fast, simple decisions in food aisles,” concludes Dell.

(1)  Freedman, M 2007. Front of Package Labeling, GDAs and Ready-to-Eat Cereals
(2)  Gordon, G & Farrar, L Undated. Food Labelling and the Mass Market: Daily Mirror Reader Insight GDA Campaign Research Analysis.
(3)  Ipsos 2008. Measuring the Impact of Fact-Based Front of Pack Labeling: Pre-Wave. Ipsos Insight: Chicago.
(4)  Zietsman, M & Labadarios, D 2000. The Impact of Consumer Attitudes towards and Knowledge of Nutritional Information on Food Labels.

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