Jack was perplexed. “How the heck do I get nutrition facts for my product?”, he asked. I could hear the slight panic in his voice over the phone.
He’d already perfected each of his recipes in his line of gourmet hummus, he’d chosen and ordered his packaging, and he’d designed his package label. Just when he thought he was ready to pitch his product to a local grocery store chain, a colleague kindly pointed out that he’d forgotten an incredibly important part of his product—the nutrition facts label.
Having worked in the food labeling industry for over a decade, I know Jack’s mistake is quite common. But because having a FDA-compliant nutrition facts panel is such a critical part of any product pitch, it’s good to be well-informed of your options for making a nutrition facts panel so you can choose the best method for you.
In order to answer Jack’s question—one I get asked by new food manufacturers on a daily basis—I am going to walk you through all the ways you can attain a nutrition facts label for your product, explain the pros and cons of each, and then discuss the simplest and most affordable way to create a nutrition facts label yourself.
The Many Ways to Attain a Nutrition Facts Label: Weighing the Options
Before he called me, Jack was scrambling to find a quick and affordable solution to his problem, so he went online and began researching how he could get a nutrition facts panel. By the time we chatted, he had a pretty good idea of his options, but he couldn’t find much info on how each method worked or what the benefits and drawbacks were.
So, I broke the four main options down for him like this:
While food labs provide accurate nutrition results, the cost, the hassle and the wait time are not worth it. Analysis of a single food product can cost as much as $800 dollars—so this wouldn’t be a good choice for someone like Jack who has multiple products. Also, keep in mind that each time you tweak your product—something food manufacturers do frequently—you will have to send another sample for analysis.
The process of preparing, packaging, and shipping all your food samples is also time-consuming. Plus, it can take up to a month to receive the results from the lab, which is a long time to wait, especially if you product pitch is coming up quickly. As a rule, you only need to use a food lab if your product is deep fried or heavily processed.
Having an independent company or consultant create your nutrition facts panel is a fairly common choice for those who do not want to conduct the nutrition analysis themselves. While it can be nice having someone else take care of the task for you, the convenience comes at a price—often several hundred dollars per recipe.
While many companies keep your information confidential, it can also be nerve-wracking for first-time food manufacturers to hand their recipes over to someone else. Again, if you want to alter your recipe in any way, you will have to pay a steep fee (usually around $100). Additional charges also usually apply for more specific information about your product, like what nutrient content claims it qualifies for (i.e. low-fat).
While a CD-ROM program might seem like an affordable choice for creating a nutrition facts panel, they are notoriously complex to navigate and are limiting in a number of ways. First of all, the program must be installed on a computer, but many modern computers don’t have CD-ROM drives. This means if you get a new computer, the software might not be compatible with it.
You also run the risk of losing all your confidential product information if your computer is lost or stolen. Furthermore, if FDA nutritional guidelines are updated, you have to buy a new version of the program, which doesn’t make it the wisest long-term investment for your business.
Web-based Nutrition Analysis Software
Of all the options, this is the quickest and most efficient way to get your nutrition facts panel. FDA-compliant online software such as LabelCalc is not only user-friendly, it’s the cheapest option, costing as little as $225 per recipe. Allergen statements, nutrient content claims, and several layouts for nutrition facts panel are typically included in the cost.
The best web-based software will have databases with as many as 18,000 pre-analysed ingredients, so all you have to do is select the ingredients in your recipe and the accurate nutritional information is generated instantly for you. If an ingredient isn’t in the database, you can easily add it. Some online software also comes with the option of expert consulting, which means someone else can make your nutrition facts panel for you.
How to Get Nutrition Facts for Your Product Simply and Affordably
Given a limited budget, potential time constraints, and the need to constantly improve and adjust your product, a web-based nutrition analysis software is the best way to attain your nutrition facts panel.
To give you an idea of how simple the process can be, I’ll outline the steps involved from start to finish:
- Create an account with a username and secure password.
- Sign in to your account and enter your product recipe and serving size.
- The software will immediately generate your FDA-compliant nutrition facts label, allergen statements, and any qualifying nutrient content claims.
- Modify your ingredients, amounts, serving size, and label layout, if desired. If you have multiple variations of the same product, use the duplicate function to quickly create a new recipe to alter.
- Download the completed label and print.
Depending on the complexity of your particular product, this process should only take an hour or two at most the first time you do it. Every time thereafter, it can take as little as a few minutes. While much of the software out there is intuitive to use, LabelCalc includes a number of video demos that are worth watching before you start making your first nutrition facts panel.
In the end, Jack ended up using a web-based software to make his nutrition facts labels for his hummus line, which saved him a lot of time, money, and stress. While nutrition facts may seem complicated to create yourself, especially if you’ve never done it before, the right web-based nutritional analysis and label generator makes the label generation process quite simple. Trust me when I say it is a lot easier to make a nutrition facts panel than it is to create a tasty food product! You’ve got this.
LabelCalc offers industry leading web-based nutritional analysis and FDA-approved label-making that is both easy to use and affordable, making it a great choice for first-time food manufacturers. For all your label-related questions or to set up an account, contact us today.