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Product Claims: Everything You Need to Know

If you have a really great food or beverage product, you may be tempted to shout it from the rooftops. Or at least display its greatness on the front of the packaging. And while package claims can be helpful for both companies and consumers, they must be done right.

If you want to market your product with a certain claim, you have to go about it a very specific way. The FDA tightly regulates what can be claimed on product packaging. It has been proven that consumers prefer products with nutrition and health claims, so following the FDA claim approval process can really pay off for your brand.

Are wondering how to go about marketing a claim for your food or beverage product?

Look no further. Here is what you need to know.

FDA-Approved Claims

The FDA considers a health claim to be a statement about the relationship between a food product or ingredient and a reduced risk of disease or a health condition. Based on this, the FDA only approves and acknowledges two types of health claims:

  • Authorized Health Claims – Claims backed by significant scientific agreement (SSA). There is publically available scientific information on the matter and a consensus on the effects, etc.
  • Qualified Health Claims – Claims that don’t have the requirements for SSA but are still backed by a significant amount of scientific evidence.

Both of these types of claims require FDA approval. Businesses have to submit their product claim for review and await official approval before they can start marketing the product with the claim.

Other Claims

If you would rather not wait months and months for FDA approval, you can use other claims for your products. These claims are more generic and do not need to be backed by scientific evidence, so they are not specifically regulated by the FDA. These types of claims are:

  • Structure – Function Claims – These claims describe the role of a food or food ingredient in affecting the structure or function of the human body. These types are claims are often used for supplements, which the FDA does not approve. Example: “Calcium builds strong bones.”
  • Dietary Guidance Claims – These claims describe certain ingredients’ roles in contributing to a healthy diet. Example: “High-fiber foods promote regularity.”
  • Nutritional Content Claims – These claims describe the levels of ingredients in products. Example: “This product has 1 ½ of your daily servings of whole grains.”

Because none of these claims suggest miraculous health benefits from any specific product, they pass by the FDA without needing special approval.

So now that you know more about what needs to be approved and what doesn’t, find out more about the most common claims in the market before you decide which is best for your product.

Top Food & Beverage Product Claims:

  1. Healthy Diet – low fat, sugar free, reduced sodium, plus fiber, etc.
  2. Absence of ‘Bad’ Ingredients – no artificial ingredients, free from preservatives, non-GMO
  3. Pure – organic, all natural
  4. Ethical (Animals) – grass-fed, cage-free, pasture-raised
  5. Ethical (Humans) – fair trade, equal opportunity
  6. Life Longevity – healthy habits for life, heart healthy
  7. Ideological – Kosher, Halal, vegan, vegetarian
  8. Environmentally-Friendly – Rainforest Alliance, Non-GMO, sustainable
  9. Better Performance – brain food, long-lasting energy

These are the top claims in the market currently, and for good reason. All these claims are related to health and wellness in some way to meet consumer wants and needs. They have been successful at doing so and prove to be a safe choice for any product that truthfully embodies these claims.

Just keep in mind that some of these labeling claims need FDA approval, or approval from outside organizations like the USDA (certified organic) or The Non-GMO Project (certified non-GMO).

Consumers Choose

While you may be trying to decide which claim will be best for your brand, it is actually the consumer that chooses. They will respond to the claims that speak to them the most and best fit their lifestyles.

The best possible way to figure out which claim will be most relevant is through market research testing. If you have the finances and the time to test claims for consumer feedback, I highly recommend it. Consumers will give feedback on which claims are important to their lifestyle and which claims don’t seem to matter.

Think Like a Consumer

However, if you cannot do market research testing, you can still gain insight into how your consumer thinks.

Firstly, think of your target audience. You have to understand how consumers decide which products are right for them based on the claims they see. Knowing what kind of consumer you want to reach is key. Consider the following:

  • Who is your ideal customer? Who are they shopping for? (kids, teens, adults, elderly)
  • Who influences their purchase? (family, friends, doctors, celebrities, etc.)
  • Where are they getting their recommendations? (online, word-of-mouth, etc.)
  • What is their lifestyle like? What are their habits? (allergy-conscious, vegan, halal, etc.)

You must know exactly who your product is going to appeal to so you can narrow down which claims will carry them to the point-of-purchase.

But remember – more isn’t always better. If you have too many claims, your product could lose its credibility and your best claims can lose their potency. Too many claims can give consumers ‘label fatigue’, so choose one (or a few) that speak to your consumers and stick with it.

Finally, Make an Informed Decision

Once you are sure which claims will appeal to your ideal customer, decide which claim is most truthful to and reflective of your product. Also consider which claim best matches the product branding and the overall company branding.