Food label changes cost more than predicted: Campden BRI

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Campden bri European union

The cost of changing food product labels are significantly higher than estimated by the European Commission or in UK studies, according to a report from research group Campden BRI.

The report, conducted by Campden on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, identified wide variation in re-labeling costs from £1,800 to £6,500 per stock keeping unit.

John Hammond, head of Campden BRI’s Information and Legislation Department told “Although the results of the survey cannot be regarded as statistically representative, responses suggested an average total cost of about £3,000 per stock keeping unit, more than three times than some previous estimates.”

Unnecessary costs

The high cost of relabeling underlines the importance of ensuring that labels are prepared correctly first time.

Getting labels right first time can save unnecessary costs arising from re-work. Those include: Materials, such as plates, proofs, inks, and stock write off; administration, for example of the design and reprographics activities; and management, for aspects such as approval or sign off​,” said Hammond.

“In order to minimise re-design and re-print costs, companies should design their labels to take account, not just of the law and good practice as it stands today, but also after considering how these requirements may alter during the lifetime of the product label​,” he added.

Campden BRI's Label Review service is designed to help companies prevent potentially costly errors, and extend the usable life of product labels.

Most label changes are caused by a commercial factors, according to the study.

Label changes arising from regulatory requirements account for a relatively small minority of relabeling. “Therefore, the cost of regulation-based label changes can be reduced by lead-in times of sufficient length to allow for the alignment of those changes with commercially-driven changes​,” wrote the reports authors.

Labeling legislation

Food labeling legislation is harmonised at across the European Union (EU). In the UK, responsibility for food labeling legislation and policy is split across three government departments: DEFRA, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Department of Health.

Label legislation covers a wide range of information including: The rules on ingredients listing, date marks the name of the food and country of origin labeling.

New labeling rules are under negotiation in the EU following the European Commission’s proposal for a new Food Information Regulation on 4 February 2008. This proposal follows an EU-wide review of both general food and nutrition labeling legislation, which began in 2004.

The proposal will bring EU rules on general and nutrition labeling together into a single regulation designed to simplify and consolidate existing labeling legislation. Once agreed, the regulation will be directly applicable in all Member States and replace existing UK legislation.

The report, published by DEFRA is called: Developing a Framework for Assessing the Costs of Labeling Changes in the UK.

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