Justin King calls upon the food industry to adopt universal food labelling


Justin King, Chief Executive of Sainsbury’s, today called on the food industry to move to universal front of pack nutritional labelling combining multiple traffic lights (MTLs) and Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs).

Speaking at the industry's Annual IGD Convention, he announced Sainsbury's will be making a decisive move designed to encourage both food retailers and manufacturers to put aside their differences on food labelling, with the aim of making it easier for customers to make informed choices about the food they buy.

Justin King said: "Sainsbury's has always championed simple, clear nutritional labelling. Seven years ago, we were the first to use traffic lights which are based on Guideline Daily Amounts on front of pack. Over 9,000 Sainsbury's lines now carry our unique and much loved 'Wheel of Health' multiple traffic light labelling. Years of research show customers prefer a combination of red, amber, green traffic light colour-coding, combined with GDAs.

"Now we are calling for the industry to put aside their differences and work together and align behind a common format.

"Impending EU regulatory packaging changes mean all food retailers and manufacturers will need to change a number of aspects of their labelling anyway. The Department of Health is currently working on exactly what this means for theUKfood industry, but we know it will lead to a period of significant packaging change. It's a once in a generation opportunity to give customers a unified approach that makes it easier for them to make healthier eating choices. 

"So today Sainsbury's is committing to introduce a new tabular format of colour-coded nutritional labelling as part of that change. We're calling on other manufacturers and retailers to do the same so we can ensure a consistent, combined approach. 

"We're also calling for an end to the use of any other colours which confuse consumers. There can be no justification in customer terms for continued use of any colours except multiple traffic lights."

Notes to editors

  • The new Provision of Food Information to Consumers Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 (FIR) will require all food manufacturers and retailers already providing nutrition information to change their labelling from 2014 and others to begin nutrition labelling for the first time from 2016.  Some detailed elements of the legislation are still to be decided, so technical details of the proposed new labelling scheme are subject to change
  • In May, the governments across the UK launched a consultation with the aim of bringing about a consistent approach to front of pack nutrition information. The consultation also looked at technical aspects, including the nutrition criteria on which front of pack labelling is based. 
  • It is anticipated that the Department of Health will provide clear guidance on the implications of EU legislation for the UK food industry in early to mid 2013 allowing the new label to start to appear on Sainsbury's products by 2014.
  • Sainsbury's was the first UK retailer to apply front of pack Multiple Traffic Light (MTL) labelling in January 2005 and is the most extensive adopter of Multiple Traffic Lights in theUK, with labels on around 9,000 Sainsbury's own brand products.
  • Multiple Traffic Light nutrition labelling also form a key part of Sainsbury's health strategy with a commitment to decrease the proportion of red ratings on our own brand products forming part of the company's 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan
  • Independent research by Ipsos Mori from May 2011 shows that 80% of customers see Multiple Traffic Light labels as useful, and 79% are influenced by them when deciding what to buy
  • Seven years ago, Sainsbury's led the way in being the first to combine both MTLs and GDAs (Guideline Daily Amounts) on front of pack with their 'Wheel of Health' based on GDAs. The 'Wheel of Health' will be replaced by a linear format.



About the article

  • Posted on: 09 October 2012
  • Type of article: Press release