The new initiative was a collaborative effort in advance of mandatory supplement product labeling changes. Companies with more than $10 million in annual sales had a compliance deadline of January 1, 2020. Smaller companies have until the beginning of 2021 to comply.
The new Supplement Facts panels have a number of changes including a slightly different format for the display of information. Other changes reflect the latest thinking in nutrition science, including different Daily Values; a change of amount units from IUs to mg and mcg for vitamins A, D, and E; and the inclusion of folic acid (listed as folate) measured in mg of dietary equivalents.
Tools for companies and consumers
Weindruch said CRN and its partners recognized that while the changes were mandated in part to make the label information more clearly understandable by consumers, the end result could just be further confusion. On the flip side, CRN’s consumer research showed that consumers us the information on labels to drive purchase decisions.
“It was a collective effort, and the need was recognized by CRN and by member companies,” said Nancy Weindruch, vice president of communications for the organization.
“We wanted to take something that was complicated and make it as understandable as possible, so that we can encourage overall label literacy,” she added.
The initiative’s website, belabelwise.org, includes videos and graphics that companies and consumers alike can use to better understand the new labels. One page takes a step-by-step approach to guide consumers through the new labels, with interactive numbered callouts for each portion of the panel.
Other portions of the site are more directed toward companies, with sample social media posts they can use to communicate with their customers on social media.
The initiative has been in place for more than a year now, long enough, Weindruch said, to gauge how well it is working.
“We have had overwhelmingly positive feedback from organizations that in one way or another reach the consumer,” Weindruch said. Among those organizations that have found the new website to be a valuable tool are other industry associations such as the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the Global Organization for EPA & DHA Omega-3s (GOED), the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) as well as other groups such as the Direct Selling Association (DSA) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), she said.
After an eight-year stint with CRN Weindruch has announced she is leaving the organization at the end of the month. Having worked on the new label initiative is a fitting legacy, she said.
“I was first attracted to CRN because I thought this was an organization that was doing things right, to stand up to bullies and to make sure the marketplace was filled with quality products and that consumers were safe,” she said.
“To end my tenure at CRN with an initiative like this really means a lot to me,” she added.