One thing I’ve learnt from many years working in nutrition marketing . . . promoting the health and nutrition benefits of your product isn’t as easy as relaying information from Wikipedia or a Blog, even if written by an expert! There are rules around what you can and can’t say and these vary from product to product and from market to market. Getting the rules right at the start will save you time and money – you don’t want to head down a track leading you nowhere.
Find out what rules apply to your product at the start of the process. Don’t leave it until you’re about to launch, or worse still, after you’ve launched when you find yourself trying to justify your claims to local authorities or potential investors. There might be a plethora of nutrition information out there to build your messages from, but it is a potential minefield, and you need to get it right.
1. A high level of scientific evidence is required to support health and nutrition claims.
The statements must also be truthful and not deceptive or misleading. In New Zealand, these are governed by the Food Standards Code and Fair Trading Act, set up to protect the consumer who relies on the information you give them. Locally these are enforced by the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Commerce Commission however other countries have their own regulatory frameworks, operating along similar lines.
2. Claims permitted in one market can be different from another.
Just because something has been said about a food product in the United States, it doesn’t mean the same claim can be made about a similar product in New Zealand. Dietary recommendations differ too. It’s important to understand this as it provides context for your claims.
3. You need to be able to prove that your product is worthy of the claim you want to make.
That means you need evidence (nutritional composition data) that relates directly to your product. Using composition data from another country is unlikely to be sufficient for a product that’s been produced in New Zealand, as nutritional content can vary widely for the same food. Depending upon your product, you might be best to get your product analysed in its final form.
By understanding and following correct procedures, you’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with, and can be confident your product contains what you say it does throughout its shelf-life. Being accused of misleading or deceiving consumers is not ideal.
Here are a few instances where understanding the rules around nutrition marketing can come in handy:
You need to ensure that the product and attributes you’re testing, comply with regulatory criteria. It’s a waste of resources if your potential consumers fall in love with benefits you can’t pull off.
New product concepts
When you start developing a concept it’s wise to consider the functional and emotional benefits that you will be able to deliver. Checking out regulations in the markets you’re interested in will help you understand what’s possible and what is not. Identifying barriers early on gives you a chance to find solutions. It’s much better to do this up front than after the product has been developed.
If you’re scoping out a new market to expand into, you’ll need to know what the rules are for that country. You may need to modify your product in some way, so don’t forget to check the rules around what you can and can’t say.