Food and Beverage Industry Launches Nutrition Keys Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labeling Initiative to Inform Consumers and Combat Obesity

PHOENIX, AZ – America’s leading food and beverage manufacturers and retailers today announced the launch ofNutrition Keys, a new voluntary front of pack nutrition labeling system that will help busy consumers make informed choices when they shop.  The program represents the most significant modernization of food labels since the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990.

The Nutrition Keys program was developed in response to a request from First Lady Michelle Obama in March of last year.

“We share First Lady Michelle Obama’s goal of solving childhood obesity within a generation,” said Pamela G. Bailey, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.  “Today’s announcement would not have been possible without her leadership.  Food and beverage companies have a strong track record of providing consumers with the products, tools and information they need to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle, and this program represents a significant milestone in our ongoing effort to help consumers construct a healthy diet.”

“Today’s sophisticated consumer wants more information about their food than ever before,” said Leslie Sarasin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Food Marketing Institute.  “Nutrition Keys, combined with the many innovative nutrition education tools and programs in retail stores, is helping us meet that challenge and exceed consumer expectations.”

The Nutrition Keys program will change the look of the vast majority of the country’s most popular food and beverage products by placing important nutrition information (calories, saturated fat, sodium and total sugars content) on the front of packages.  To appeal to busy consumers, the information will be presented in a fact-based, simple and easy-to-use format.  The icon will inform consumers about how the key nutrients in each product fit into a balanced and healthy diet as part of the federal government’s daily dietary advice.

To view the icons and related information, click here.

In addition, the Nutrition Keys icon on some products will display information about “nutrients to encourage” that are important for a healthy diet, but are under-consumed by the general population.  Nutrients to encourage that may appear on some products as part of the Nutrition Keys icon are: potassium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron and also protein.

The Board of Directors of GMA and FMI adopted a joint resolution in support of the Nutrition Keys initiative at their January 23 joint board meeting.  Those companies represent the vast majority of food and beverage products sold in local stores.

“Obesity is a serious and far-reaching problem,” said Ric Jurgens, Chairman and Chief Executive of Hy-Vee, Inc.  “As industry leaders, parents and grandparents, we have an obligation – along with government, schools and other stakeholders – to attack our nation’s rising obesity rates.  We are proud participants in the Nutrition Keys program.”

“Helping consumers make informed decisions is not just good business sense, it is the right thing to do,” said Gary Rodkin, Chief Executive Officer of ConAgra Foods, and Chairman of the GMA Board of Directors.  “Our industry has stepped up to the plate in a big way to help improve public health and combat obesity and this program is a very important step in the right direction.”

Companies will begin to place the icon on their products in 2011 according to seasonality and production schedules.  Consumers will begin to see the Nutrition Keys icon on their favorite products in the next few months, and the number of products that carry the icon will continue to grow throughout the year.

To build consumer awareness and promote use of the icon, America’s food and beverage manufacturers and retailers have agreed to support the change to their product labels with an unprecedented consumer education campaign.  Participating manufacturers and retailers will initially invest at least $50 million in an advertising, public relations and in-store marketing campaign aimed at those who serve as the primary shopper for their family.


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