Variety Pack Food Labeling: What You Need to Know About Aggregate Food Labels
I remember a client telling me that when she was a kid, she got to enjoy variety pack of mini cereal boxes—but just on her birthday. Normally, her mother wouldn’t allow her to have sweet breakfasts, but on her special day, there were no rules. She could have Corn Pops and Fruit Loops if she wanted, and she loved that she got to sample so many fun flavors.
This was such a fond memory for this client that when she started her own granola company years later, she decided to put together a variety pack of all her delicious flavors of granola so her customers could have the exciting experience of trying all the variations. The problem was, she didn’t quite know how to make the nutrition label for a variety pack.
I’ve written a bit about label formats on the blog before, but I haven’t specifically touched on how to create nutrition labels for food products with more than one type of product in the package. So, I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about aggregate or variety pack food labeling to help food manufacturers understand how the FDA expects them to display nutrition information on their packaging.
Variety Pack Food Labeling FDA Guidelines
Generally, variety packs include individually packaged products within them. Typically, these products are very similar but may vary in flavor. These individually packaged products are also intended to be eaten separately.
Examples of variety pack foods include:
- A box of assorted ice cream treats
- A bag of assorted candy bars
- A box of assorted breakfast cereals
- A package of individually boxed macaroni and cheese kits
- An assortment of 5 different kinds of cookies
For these kinds of packages, the FDA gives food manufacturers two options for nutrition labeling:
- Provide separate nutrition facts panels for each product.
- Provide an aggregate nutrition facts panel (which is a single nutrition facts label with a separate column for each product within the package).
If the foods in the variety pack are likely to be eaten together, however, as may be the case for an assortment of small cookies, the two above options still apply, but a third is also offered: the manufacturer may make a composite nutrition label that provides one nutrition facts panel that is based on a weighted average of the package’s contents.
Whichever way you decide to display your nutrition information for the contents of your variety pack, be mindful that the nutrition facts panels must be placed on the outside of the package so the consumer can view the nutrition information without opening the package.
Using Online Nutrition Analysis Software for Variety Pack Foods
Regardless of whether or not you choose an aggregate label format or individual nutrition facts panels for your variety pack, you still have to find the nutritional values for each individual product in the package.
While this can certainly be more time-consuming than just analyzing one food product, it doesn’t have to take up all your hours. If you use an online nutrition analysis software like LabelCalc, for instance, analyzing several similar products can be accomplished very quickly. This is because LabelCalc has a duplicate function that allows you to make a copy of any product’s recipe once you’ve entered it into the software. After you’ve made the copy, you can easily tweak the recipe as needed for the other similar products in the variety pack rather than re-entering the recipe several times.
Once you have entered your recipe, the nutrition facts panels will generate instantly, according to all the specifications of the FDA. Your values will be rounded in compliance with FDA-rounding rules, and you can select an FDA-approved label format that suits your package.
In my client’s experience, online nutrition analysis software made it very easy for her to create a nutrition label for her variety pack of granola. She was also able to receive guidance from the software’s food labeling experts when she had questions, which made her feel confident that she had indeed labeled her variety pack properly—and for a food manufacturer, that is a really good feeling.
LabelCalc is an industry-leading nutrition analysis software that makes it easy to create nutrition facts panels for variety packs. To start creating your nutrition facts panel today, contact us.