£100k an item for Food Information Regulation errors

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Retailers should share data on aspects such as country of origin labelling with all parties, says Trace One
Retailers should share data on aspects such as country of origin labelling with all parties, says Trace One

Related tags Food information regulation European union Product Label

Retailers face bills of up to £100k per product line if they stumble over labelling changes required by the EU Food Information Regulation (FIR), which takes effect from December 13.

That’s the warning issued by own-label software company Trace One. The firm claimed the average cost of a label change was £3k per product, so large retailers with 10,000 product lines may have spent up to £30M on FIR compliance.

However, it said the cost of discarding finished product, re-designing labels and manufacturing and distributing replacement stock in the event of a mistake could exceed £100k per product.

That was on top of stated fines of £5,000 or more per incident of non-compliant labelling, plus lost sales for recalled items, it added.

Pass information accurately

To comply with FIR legislation, retailers had to be confident about the information they received from suppliers, said Trace One. They must also pass information accurately between stages in the labelling process to ensure it makes it to the consumer intact, it advised.

To achieve that, detailed, standardised specification information had to be shared among all parties including retailers, manufacturers, suppliers and packaging designers, the company said.

“Closer collaboration and complete transparency between retailers, manufacturers and suppliers will be crucial in validating that products are what they say they are,”​ said Nick Martin, senior vice-president for Northern Europe at Trace One.

“Retailers and manufacturers should ensure data is transparently shared between all parties in the supply chain so information such as the country of origin of primary ingredients can be quickly and easily determined.

Total confidence

“As much as possible of this process should be automated, so that any changes will be made consistently and in accordance with legislation. Not only does this help reduce the cost and complexity of a label change, it also means that the retailer can have total confidence that they know and can demonstrate the provenance of every single product.”

Even without regulation, retailers risked alienating a whole new generation of consumers if they did not focus on quality and providing complete transparency of food products, said Trace One. 

“The savvy shopper, having been significantly put off by recent food scares, is now demanding more information than ever before,”​ said Martin.

“This trend shows no sign of slowing. While regulation can have a negative impact on many retailers, for those that get it right, providing more information can restore consumer trust and help retailers and manufacturers be prepared for any further legislative changes in the future.”

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