From 30 December 2022, "Nutri-Grade" beverages sold in Singapore in prepacked form and from automatic beverage dispensers will be subject to new labelling requirements and advertising prohibitions.
As the new regulations will come into operation on 30 December 2022, brands selling "Nutri-Grade" beverages should begin to consider where their products fall under the "Nutri-Grade" grading system and take steps to comply with the new regulations.
Brands may also consider product innovation to formulate beverages with more desirable "Nutri-Grade" grades. This would not only contribute to the public health efforts undertaken by the Singapore regulators, but may position such beverages and brands favourably from a public relations perspective.
In more detail
On 30 December 2021, the Ministry of Health (MOH) released an update on the implementation of labelling requirements and advertising prohibitions in relation to "Nutri-Grade" beverages.
Against the backdrop of rising concerns of high sugar intake being linked to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes, and studies showing that beverages contribute to more than half of Singaporeans' daily sugar intake, the MOH sought to implement regulations as part of its "war on diabetes".
Whilst the MOH first announced in October 2019 its intention to implement such measures, these new measures would only come into operation on 30 December 2022. This would provide the industry additional time to comply with the measures and reformulate their products to increase the range and variety of healthier choices for Singaporeans.
Through the new measures, the MOH intends for the following: (i) to help consumers identify beverages that are higher in sugar and saturated fat to make more informed and healthier choices; (ii) to reduce the influence of advertising on consumer preferences on beverages high in sugar; and (iii) to spur industry reformulation.
"Nutri-Grade" beverages include soft drinks, juices and juice drinks, milk and milk beverages, cultured milk/yoghurt drinks and instant powdered beverages. These include prepacked beverages and beverages dispensed from automated beverage dispensers, including fountain drinks and beverages dispensed from automated coffee machines.
Alcoholic beverages and beverages prepared by hand at the place where they are sold or those that can be customized by the purchaser are excluded from the definition of "Nutri-Grade" beverages.
Under the "Nutri-Grade" grading system, "Nutri-Grade" beverages are to be graded "A", "B", "C" or "D", as follows:
|Grade||Colour code||Sugar content (g/100ml)||Saturated fat content (g/100ml)||Examples of beverages|
|A||Dark green||≤ 1 and no sweetener||≤ 0.7||Water; unsweetened teas; skimmed milk|
|B||Light green||> 1 to 5||≤ 1.2||Low fat milk; low-sugar Asian drinks; diet drinks|
|C||Orange||> 5 to 10||≤ 2.8||Full fat milk; Asian drinks; isotonic drinks|
|D||Red||> 10||> 2.8||Soft drinks; pure fruit juices; juice drinks; energy drinks|
The Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) guidelines have been revised to align with the "Nutri-Grade" grading system, where all HCS drinks would be considered Grade "A" or "B" under the "Nutri-Grade" grading system.
There are requirements for the display of the "Nutri-Grade" mark, including the structure/components of the "Nutri-Grade" mark; font style and size; colour palette; and other general packaging guidelines.
Nutrition information panel
"Nutri-Grade" beverages must carry a nutrition information panel (NIP), specifying the energy value; and the amounts of protein, carbohydrate, total sugar, fat and saturated fat. Only lactose or galactose declared on the NIP would be subtracted from the amount of total sugar for the purpose of the "Nutri-Grade" grading system. If lactose or galactose is not declared on the NIP, their respective amounts are taken as zero.
In addition to the "Nutri-Grade" grade, the sugar level of the beverage must be shown clearly on the label in the form of a percentage of the total volume (e.g., "0% sugar").
"Nutri-Grade" beverages graded "C" or "D" must be labelled with a "Nutri-Grade" mark on the front-of-pack of its package. Affixing a "Nutri-Grade" mark is optional for "Nutri-Grade" beverages graded "A" or "B", and brands can choose to label such products with the voluntary HCS and/or the "Nutri-Grade" mark.
There are also requirements for the display of the NIP.
Advertisements of "Nutri-Grade" beverages graded "D" are prohibited across all media platforms except at point-of-sale platforms (e.g., shelf talkers, promotional signage at supermarkets, tasting booths, and pop-ups at e-commerce sites), but such materials must display the beverage's "Nutri-Grade" mark clearly.
However, brand advertisements that do not feature any particular product are allowed.
From 30 December 2022, noncompliance with the measures will be an offence punishable with a fine of up to SGD 1,000, and may be doubled for repeat offenders. Post-market surveillance will be conducted by the relevant authorities to ensure compliance with the regulations.