Coke performs u-turn and embraces traffic light labelling scheme

Coca-Cola has announced it will adopt the Government’s voluntary front of pack “traffic light” labelling scheme, reversing its decision to shun the initiative when it was first introduced last year. 

Coke to adopt traffic light GDA front of pack food labelling across all its products sold in Great Britain.

The Department of Health says the system, which was introduced in June last year and forms part of the Government’s Responsibility Deal, makes it easier for consumers to make healthier choices about the foods and drinks they consume.

It combines both traffic light colour-coding and nutritional information to display how much fat, saturated fat, salt, sugar and calorie are in products – which are presented as “Reference Intakes”, replacing “Guideline Daily Amounts” (GDA).

Coke initially said last year that it would continue to use single-colour GDA labelling across the UK and EU member states, citing studies that showed European consumers “widely recognise and understand” GDAs.

Other companies also initially rejecting the traffic light system included Mondelez, United Biscuits, Unilever, Kellogg and Dairy Crest. Marketing Week has contacted these companies for updates on their status with the scheme. Mondelez and United Biscuits have responded saying it will not be switching to the traffic light system.

However, the company has since monitored the UK traffic light scheme since it began to appear in store over the past year and consulted consumers on their views. Other businesses signed up to using the label including PepsiCo, Mars and Nestle as well as all the major supermarkets.

Jon Woods, Coca-Cola Great Britain and Ireland general manager, says: “Our UK consumers have told us they want a single, consistent front-of-pack labelling scheme across all food and drink products to help them make the right choices for them and their families.

“We have therefore decided to put the new scheme on our packs here.”

Coca-Cola will implement the labelling scheme across all the products it sells in Great Britain, excluding its two water brands: Schweppes Abbey Well and Glaceau smartwater, within the first half of this year.

Across its colas, only the Coca-Cola master brand and Coca-Cola Life will display “red” labelling, as they contain 35g and 22g of sugar respectively.

Professor Susan Jebb, chair of the Public Health Responsibility Deal Food Network, says: “I really welcome this announcement that Coca-Cola Great Britain [is] signing up to the Responsibility Deal pledge on front of pack labelling. Together with [its] other work to decrease the sugar content of [its] products, introduce lower calorie options and reduce portion size, it represents a real step forward for the company in recognising [its] responsibilities for public health and supporting [its] customers to make healthier choices and control their calorie intake.”

In addition, Coca-Cola has also pledged it will make a £20m investment to fund community based physical activity projects as it hopes to inspire 1 million consumers in the UK to become more active by 2020.

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