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Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) businesses rely on well-packaged and labelled products to ensure efficient sales and inventory turnover. Products your FMCG business sells may include:

  • packaged foods or candy;
  • toiletries;
  • drinks;
  • dry goods; or
  • cosmetics.

However, if there is an issue with your labelling or packaging, this could cause problems that may stop your sales flow. Your labels need to meet regulatory requirements that apply to what you tell consumers about your products, and similar rules apply to packaging. This can also vary depending on the kind of product you sell. This article will provide five legal tips for labelling and packaging at your FMCG business.

1. Include Everything You Need On the Label

Any packaged food needs to have a label that includes specific information about the product inside. The exact information will vary, but most labels need to include:

  • date marking;
  • a list of ingredients;
  • relevant warnings and advisory statements;
  • the food’s name or description;
  • your business’ name and contact address;
  • allergen information;
  • percentage labelling;
  • food quantity/weight;
  • a nutrition information panel; and
  • use and storage instructions.

Your labels need to be truthful, legible, and in English. Your customers need to be able to see any warnings or advisory notices clearly.

A nutrition information panel is a table breaking down the nutritional makeup of your food. It contains information about carbohydrates and total fat. Most food labels need this requirement. However, some do not. These include:

  • alcoholic beverages;
  • prepacked filled rolls and sandwiches; and
  • food in a package with less than 100cm² total surface area.

If you do not include necessary information on your food labels, you risk misleading your customers. This is against the law, and you could face financial penalties.

2. Pay Close Attention to Packaging Procedures

Customers rely on your labels to be truthful and buy them based on that reliance. Therefore, if you say that your food products are free from allergens like nuts or gluten, this must be true. You need to ensure that your packaging procedures reflect what you say on your labels.

For example, say that you claim your dairy products are ‘free from nuts and other allergens’. However, you package your dairy products on machines that also package nut products. There is a chance of transference here, and a customer could have an allergic reaction. Therefore, you need to reflect this in your packaging.

You must make sure your products are safe and suitable. Therefore, you need to ensure you label your products correctly when it comes to allergens. This also includes taking care with your packaging materials.

3. Ensure Your Claims Are True

Any business in New Zealand that sells goods to consumers needs to comply with the Fair Trading Act. This law prohibits:

Therefore, you need to ensure that what you say on your labels and packaging is valid and backed up by evidence. This is especially true when you make claims about your products’:

  • environmental impact;
  • country of origin; and
  • organic nature.

For example, if you claim on your packaging that your products are ‘100% New Zealand made’, then the majority of your food’s production process should be in New Zealand. Your customers would expect you to source your active ingredients in New Zealand.

4. Protect Important Intellectual Property

Your labelling and packaging will likely use your business’ intellectual property, such as:

  • product brand names;
  • slogans; 
  • logos; and
  • product design.

Your intellectual property is a crucial business asset, and you can lose valuable customers if another business tries to pass off their products as your own. Therefore, you should look into what legal protections are available for your intellectual property, such as:

  • trade marks;
  • copyright;
  • patents;
  • designs; or
  • trade secrets.

You may already have IP rights depending on how established you are in the market, such as rights that apply to unregistered trade marks. However, the best way to protect your IP is to register with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ).

5. Point Out Any Defects

The nature of the FMCG business is that you quickly sell products, and there is high inventory turnover. When you deal with such a high volume of inventory, there may inevitably be minor defects with your products when it is time to sell. Such defects could include:

  • damaged packaging;
  • missing items; or
  • items just past their best before date.

The Consumer Guarantees Act requires that you sell goods that are of acceptable quality. However, you can still sell products with these minor defects if the customer knows about them beforehand. Customers may appreciate the chance to buy goods at a lower price if the only thing wrong with them is some dented packaging. If you sell these products, ensure that you clearly point out any defects when selling them to customers. You should not attempt to sell products that do not meet the usual standard without informing the customer first.

Key Takeaways

You need to take care not to mislead your customers with the labelling or packaging of your goods in your FMCG business. Ensure you meet proper labelling and disclosure requirements, and inform your customers of any minor defects. If you would like more information or help with your labelling and packaging, contact LegalVision’s regulatory and compliance lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does FMCG stand for?

FMCG stands for fast-moving consumer goods. These are usually packaged goods that your business can quickly sell to consumers and at a low cost.

What information does my food label need to include?

The exact information your label needs will depend on the kind of food you sell. However, most packaged food needs information about its nutritional makeup, allergen details, and any warnings about the food itself.

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property refers to the property of your mind or proprietary knowledge. This can be a critical asset that brings value to your business, such as your product design or logo.

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