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Front-of-Pack Labeling Initiative Launched

WASHINGTON — Days after Wal-Mart Stores announced plans for a front-of-pack label set to appear on its private brands, and be available for national brands later this year, industry players will launch a different system, called “Nutrition Keys,” today.

WASHINGTON — The food retail industry has launched Nutrition Keys, a new voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labeling system designed to help busy consumers make informed choices inside the store.

Designed by the Food Marketing Institute in concert with the Grocery Manufacturers Association in response to a request from First Lady Michelle Obama, the label will include “nutrition keys,” or icons that highlight nutrients that should be encouraged or limited.

The labels will highlight four nutrients to limit (calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugars) and eight nutrients to encourage (potassium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron and protein). In order to carry an icon to encourage, an item must contain at least 10% of the daily value per serving.

“Nutrition Keys will provide essential nutrition information at a glance,” FMI Chief Executive Officer Leslie Sarasin said at FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference in Phoenix Monday, when Nutrition Keys was officially launched.

The GMA and FMI boards of directors adopted a joint resolution in support of the initiative. That means the majority of food and beverages will carry the new labels.

At Hy-Vee, Nutrition Keys will be used in addition to the NuVal nutritional rating system currently in use at all stores, according to Ric Jurgens, Hy-Vee’s CEO and FMI’s board chairman.

“The Nutrition Keys will help people ascertain why one product may have a higher NuVal score than another,” he said during the FMI Midwinter press conference.

Nutrition Keys will start appearing on product packaging within the next few months. A $50 million consumer advertising, public relations and in-store marketing campaign will support the launch. A style guide has been released to help retailers and manufacturers execute the program.