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Nutritional labelling software and claims: service, training and innovation offering to SMEs and industry in Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NASCENT (Nutritional labelling software and claims: service, training and innovation offering to SMEs and industry in Europe)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-08-31

From December 2016, the Food Information Regulations (EU No. 1169/2011) required most prepacked foods to include nutrient information on product labels. This is the first time that many food business operators have had to declare such information. The majority of FBOs calculate nutrient values based on ingredients, but this is not straightforward, and most do not have sufficient knowledge to generate values with confidence, meaning they rely on nutrition labelling software (NLS). However, NLS use different approaches and publish in a variety of formats.
Nutritional Information Solutions (www.nutritionalinformationsolutions.com) provides nutrient labelling services to FBOs in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The overall aim of NASCENT was to determine the feasibility of extending this service to other EU countries and, as such, the objectives were:
•Investigate data and NLS tools used in target countries (BE, NL, DE, CZ, IT & CH) [WP1]
•Define technical adaptations for NLS for use in EU MS and CH [WP1]
•Identify/ propose a certification scheme for NLS [WP1]
•Determine NLS limitations in food composition data [WP2]
•Decide on the language translations necessary for NLS users [WP2]
•Consider the size and type of market for NLS [WP2]
•Design online training and accreditation for NLS users [WP3]
•Deliver continuing professional development and core training for the IA [WP4]
•Manage the project in accordance with the EC grant agreement [WP5]
NASCENT has allowed EuroFIR AISBL to explore and develop business concepts around a proven model and helped understanding of potential markets for NLS services in target countries. This knowledge will be taken forward into the next phase, as expanding the existing model continues to offer not only an excellent business opportunity, but also a realistic prospect of supporting compliance with Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 through provision of accurate food information.
In WP1 Software development and testing, and accreditation, NASCENT compared the requirements of EU No. 1169/2011 with legislation in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic and Switzerland (target countries). We also examined the coverage of national food composition datasets in these countries and the type(s) and size of the food and beverage market(s). In parallel, we considered the adaptations necessary for use of existing nutrient labelling software (NLS) in an extended service, identified potential competitors and whether these providers are using EuroFIR recommended approaches. Finally, we considered NLS certification, specifically whether existing certification schemes might be applied and, in the absence of any suitable system, developed a scheme for certification that could be underpinned by EuroFIR AISBL. For WP2 Harmonisation of European data approach and language NASCENT considered the scope and structure of national food composition datasets for use in NLS, generally, and the status of BE, NL, DE, IT, CZ and CH national food composition datasets with respect to NLS as well as other potential sources of robust food composition data (e.g. manufacturers’ data). Limitations in these datasets (e.g. number of foods, accuracy of values) and potential solutions (e.g. gap-filling) were also investigated. Because FBOs are legally responsible for nutrient declarations, it is essential NLS users not only have experience of recipe calculations but are also able to use software appropriately. To that end, we considered the translations required for existing NLS to be used in target countries, and the cost-benefits associated with this effort (e.g. market coverage). Factors included language use (i.e. native spoken languages), official languages, and food labelling legislation. Methods for translation were also examined (e.g. automated versus manual) alongside the effort necessary (e.g. user interface only or also online support) and compared this with information about potential competitors. Finally, we examined how local regulations would impact labels and proposed modifications to the software meet these requirements.
In WP3 Online training, testing and accreditation NASCENT considered how NLS users might best be supported with teaching materials. As a result, we developed a curriculum and proposals for delivery, face-to-face, online or through combined learning. The knowledge and teaching skills required amongst mentors and trainers were also identified. WP4 Continuing professional development and core training focussed on the training needs of the Innovation Associate (IA). NASCENT ensured the IA was able to attend four seminars delivered by IMP3rove took part in DACAPO Community Building, which formed the core training provided by the European Commission. A rigorous assessment of the IA’s skills and knowledge was undertaken at the start of the project to identify gaps and needs, as related to NASCENT activities. These were addressed as part of a personalised tailored training programme, comprised of face-to-face and online training between October 2017 and July 2018.
Finally, EuroFIR AISBL managed all operational tasks during NASCENT (WP5 Management) including administering the EC contribution in accordance with the grant and communication tasks and will continue to ensure the outcomes are disseminated and communicated using a range of approaches.
The underlying aim of NASCENT was to explore the feasibility of extending NIS Nutritics to Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. EuroFIR AISBL has published standards for food composition data, and developed a harmonised recipe calculation procedure, which is being used commercially in the UK and Ireland. However, as a non-profit research association, experience in commercial enterprise was lacking. NASCENT has allowed us to explore and develop business concepts around a proven model and helped understanding of potential markets for NLS services and tools in the target countries.
More specifically, as a consequence of NASCENT, EuroFIR has been able to:
•Appraise short- and medium-term marketing and business strategies (IMP3rove)
•Assess and determine the requirements for extending NIS Nutritics (IA)
•Design an NLS certification scheme, ready for launch (IA)
•Develop internal and customer service interfaces and protocols (IA)
•Formulate a curriculum for online training and plan delivery approaches (IA)
•Identify additional investment (IMP3rove) (e.g. SME instrument Phase 1)
•Identify potential partner organisations in BE, NL, DE, IT and CH (IA)
•Prioritise adaptation to the existing NLS software for launch in other EU MS and CH (IA)
In addition to the impact on EuroFIR, NASCENT provided the IA with new knowledge and practical skills as well as experience of working in an international environment with colleagues from different sectors (e.g. non-profit associations, SME businesses, research organisations) and interests, located locally and remotely, which will support future participation in trans-national and trans-disciplinary activities. As a consequence of the office demographics, the IA’s understanding of spoken and written English and French improved significantly, as did her critical and innovative thinking and knowledge of EU-funded project management and dissemination skills.
Poster presented at the N8 AgriFood Conference (Liverpool, UK)