Big Picture Report: February 2022
Bernadette Wiltz-Lang, SUSTA
Are you label ready? Meeting import regulations and using labels as point of sale
One of the key steps to successfully launching your brand in a new country will be label compliance. Just like the U.S., each country has its own requirements, and having an understanding of how to comply is a key component of export readiness.
For example, in Canada, labels must be bilingual, with both English and French. Weight and volume measurements must be metric, and there are small, but important, differences in the nutrition panel information. In Mexico, there are new front-of-package nutrition declaration requirements. In India, packaged food labels typically indicate whether a product is non-vegetarian or vegetarian. In Europe, there are EU Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards (FAIRS), but there may also be country-by-country standards or customs, such as language.
For most countries, you’ll have to make room to add the name of your importer, or distributor. In a few countries, the labeling requirements may be simpler, and a sticker with the required information may suffice. Finally, don’t forget, under the Market Access Program, your label will have to declare “Made in the USA.”
Your new customer will be a source of information and can help guide you through labeling regulations. But also, be assured that we at SUSTA are here to help you know what to expect. Use your MySUSTA account to schedule a virtual consultation with our in-country consultants to get ahead of the curve and gain a better understanding of what is required. And, for 50% CostShare participants, labeling changes are eligible for reimbursement - not just the initial change, but producing your labels for a foreign market each year is eligible.
Don’t just think of labels as a regulatory compliance issue, however. As you know, labels are a key part of your marketing, especially at the point of sale. Beyond what you must have on your label, check into what you may put on your label.
Indeed, just as in the U.S. market, there are opportunities to enhance your product’s appeal with voluntary approved label claims. Does your product have more whole grains, less saturated fat, less salt, less sugar, or gluten free? Is your product certified under good manufacturing process standards? Is it sustainable or eco-friendly? There will be standards in each country that will allow you to further promote your product.
Understanding these options can help you market your product to importers and distributors before it hits the shelf. Again, this is a great topic to discuss virtually with SUSTA’s in-country consultants.
Being label ready is a component of being export ready. It is one of those practical export fundamentals that can help you confidently enter the export market. This is one of the many topics that will be thoroughly addressed in SUSTA’s Export Readiness Training, which starts on March 4th.
After the past couple of years, there is a world of pent-up demand for new, unique, different, innovative and quality products. Understanding the basics of being label ready will speed up the time it takes to fill that demand.