Nestlé counts the calories with new nutritional labelling
confectionery brands in the UK and Ireland.
The labeling will display the calorie count per serving on the front of the product and give advice on guideline daily amounts on the back.
The company hopes to benefit from the groundswell of interest in healthy eating and minimize some of the adverse affects of this, which confectioners may well feel the brunt of.
The move also comes ahead of any potential EU legislation concerning compulsory nutritional labelling in addition to current laws requiring full ingredient lists, allergen warnings and justified health claims.
The introduction of the new labelling is part of a Nestle programme to give consumers the information they need to make better-informed choices about their diet.
Nestle has already put the new labelling on some products. The company will put it on other confectionery brands through the year.
In January the labelling will be introduced to the Aero, Munchies, Blue Ribbon, Yorkie and Walnut Whip brands to be followed in March by Minis, Caramac, Crunch, KitKat (two finger) and Polo.
Breakaway, Drifter, Lion, Milkybar, Rolo, Rowntrees, Smarties and Toffee Crisp will begin bearing the new labels in April-May.
Meanwhile KitKat (4 finger) KitKat Chunky and KitKat Editions are expected to complete the process before the end of the year in October.
Nestle Rowntree does not intend to add the new labelling to its confectionery gift packs because consumers felt this was inappropriate for gifts.
Nestle UK has already introduced the product labelling policies to other product categories, such as beverages, chilled dairy, milks and cereals.
Consumer research feedback revealed that customers appreciated honest clear communication and perceived the brands in a more positive light. Although Nestle's research found many consumers did not notice the new labeling until prompted respondents did feel it allowed them to make better decisions when they were on a diet.
Graham Walker, Nestle Rowntree's sales communication manager said the company's research indicated that consumers wanted "honest, clear" nutritional information on confectionery products.
"As has been widely publicised, consumers are becoming more and more interested in the nutritional value of the foods they purchase and consume," he said. "As such they are actively seeking out products that clearly communicate nutritional information with particular reference to calorie and fat content."
In January 2003 the EU commission launched a public consultation over a proposal for nutritional labelling. The commission intends to prepare a legislative proposal to improve current laws in place since 1990.
The European Union has been very active in the area of food labelling in recent years, most recently introducing allergen labelling regulations, which came into force on 25 November 2005.
The law requires companies to label all pre-packed foods if they contain any of the 12 listed allergenic foods as an ingredient.
The Commission also plans to introduce organic labelling laws to create an EU-wide standard.