Consumers across America are seeing new calorie labels on the front of beverages, as leading non-alcohol beverage companies bring the American Beverage Association’s (ABA) Clear on Calories initiative to stores. The beverage industry's voluntary commitment to make calories more visible to consumers supports First Lady Michelle Obama's efforts to help families make informed choices as part of active, healthy lifestyles.
"The new labels put calorie information at the fingertips of consumers at every point of purchase so they can choose the beverage that is right for them and their families," said Susan K. Neely, president and chief executive officer of the ABA, in a statement. "By putting the calories on the front of beverages, we're making it easier for consumers to make informed choices. It's one more way that America's beverage companies are doing their part to help people achieve a healthy weight by balancing their diet and physical activity."
Beverage companies are adding the new calorie labels to the front of cans, bottles and packs that they produce – and displaying the total calories in each container on all beverages 20 ounces or smaller. The labels began appearing on some beverages last fall and are now in stores nationwide. The companies expect to have the calorie label on the front of all of their major brands and more than half of their product volume by June of this year – and on all brands and packages by early 2012 as committed.
This calorie labeling initiative is part of the industry's Clear on Calories commitment, announced last year in support of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign to end childhood obesity in a generation.
The Clear on Calories initiative has required a significant manufacturing, distribution and resource commitment by the participating companies, which are as follows: The Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Sunny Delight Beverages, Nestle Waters North America, Cott Beverages and Honest Tea, the association said. The beverage companies are redesigning and converting the package labels across their broad portfolios of products, which include soft drinks, 100 percent juice and juice drinks, ready-to-drink teas, sports drinks, enhanced water beverages and bottled water.
The calorie label was developed last year and tested with consumers to make sure it provided clear and easy-to-use information they could use to make informed choices when buying a beverage, the ABA said. The industry worked with the White House and its agencies throughout the label development process and remains in contact with the administration throughout implementation of this initiative.
Under the labeling commitment, the companies agreed to display calories more prominently on the following:
  • Product labels: Total calories will be displayed on the front of all containers up to and including 20 ounces. A 12-ounce serving will be used in displaying calories for multi-serve beverage packages (such as 2-liter bottles). One hundred percent juices and juice drinks, at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s request, will continue to use an 8-ounce serving size.
  • Company-controlled vending machines: Total calories in each container will be displayed on selection buttons on company-controlled vending machines, or when infeasible, in close proximity to the specific selection.
  • Company-controlled fountain equipment: Calories will be displayed prominently.
With regard to vending machines and fountain equipment, new federal regulations were proposed under health care reform after the beverage industry's commitment was announced. To ensure regulatory compliance, the association is now working within the regulatory process on how vending machines and fountain equipment will be labeled.