Joan Prats, corporate responsibility director health and wellness for Coca-Cola Europe, took part in a panel on nutritional labelling at the 4th annual European Nutrition and Lifestyle conference in Brussels this week.
He told FoodNavigator.com afterwards that much of the debate centred on whether Guidance Daily Amounts (GDAs) on front-of-pack should be given per 100g/ml or per portion.
But what exactly constitutes a portion of soft drink? There is no EU rule on the matter, and food and beverage manufacturers may define and communicate portion sizes as they deem fit.
Prats explained that the soft giant conducted in depth consumer research between 2005 and 2006 Coca-Cola conducted qualitative and quantitive research in the 10 European markets where it sells two thirds of its volume. This research covered both the purchaser in a household, and the person receiving the products purchased.
“We asked consumers, ‘when it comes to non-alcoholic beverages, what is a portion size for you?’,” he said.
They responded that a portion is a glass; a glass – filled from a bottle – is typically taken to be 250ml.
“That seems to be common knowledge,” said Prats.
However Coca-Cola markets products in a whole gamut of different sizes and formats. It followed up by asking: ‘If a glass is a portion, what is a can?”.
Cans in Europe come in a standard size of 330ml, which would make them 1.32 portions if a glass size is used as the benchmark.
But the response from consumers was: A can is standardised, and it is not re-sealable, so it is also a portion.
Prats said consumers are prepared to grant an exception on portion size in the case of cans, but the full amount of energy (calories) for the can-portion needs to be marked. For a 330ml of regular Coke, this is 139kcal.
For a larger bottle, from which the consumer is expected to pour a 250ml serving, energy per serving is 105kcal.
“For any pack smaller than a can, GDA is related to the size of the pack.”