The labeling of genetically modified ingredients in food products has become one of the more discussed elements of packaging in recent years. With an impending patchwork of state rules superseded by a national rule which didn't fully please people on any side of the issue, GMO labeling has been worthy of constant attention. The need for vigilance is especially true among producers that may have to change their strategies upon the introduction of a new law or deviation from current plans.
State of the Issue
As Food Safety Magazine reported in February, it's not entirely clear how the national law requiring GMO disclosure will be implemented. The source explained that the anti-regulation attitude found throughout the Trump administration extends to the Department of Agriculture
The deadlines for explaining the GMO law's details came and went with no releases, potentially due to the change from one president to another. The next steps will remain unknown until there is more clarity from the USDA.
The source added that there is still hope that whatever rule eventually makes it into the books brings some clarity to the question of GMO usage and how it should affect consumer purchasing behavior. While it's doubtful that any regulation will be equally satisfactory to producers and consumer advocates, each group may meet some of their goals.
A Sales Boon?
While the mandatory labeling of GMOs remains a hotly contested issue, what about selling products based on the absence of GMOs? That could be a very promising strategy, according to Packaging Digest contributor David Luttenberger. Mintel, where the author serves as global packaging director, recently quizzed consumers on their food preferences and found that many are interested in picking items without GMOs.
Luttenberger pointed to the high "purchase intent" score of non-GMO labeling. He pointed out that one quarter of consumers consider non-GMO claims important when choosing food. A smaller but significant slice, 13 percent of shoppers, say that absence of GMOs is the No. 1 thing they look for when inspecting foods.
Considering the fondness shoppers have for avoiding genetically modified ingredients, companies that don't use these ingredients may be well served by labels that trumpet this claim – provided they can prove it. This may remain a valuable tactic whether or not new GMO rules come into effect in the near future.
When faced with an uncertain labeling future, brands may benefit from bringing their label creation efforts in-house. This is where Argon Technology can help, with major manufacturers' top printers such as the Afinia A801. Check it out in our U.S. store or Canada page.