Will Nutri-Score® establish itself in Europe?

RB – 01/2020

A balanced and healthy diet affects well-being and health. According to the WHO, poor eating habits are often the cause of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus or cardiovascular disease. The development of certain types of cancer is also influenced by dietary habits. Therefore, poor dietary behaviour in the EU is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Europe.

Helping consumers to make informed choices

The Nutrition Report 2019 (German only) published by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture shows that Germans are increasingly making conscious decisions when buying food. However, making an informed choice about buying healthy food is often only possible when consumers have the appropriate knowledge or do their own research.

Currently, EU Regulation No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers regulates the labelling of foodstuffs in the European Union and sets out uniform minimum requirements. This Regulation stipulates, for example, the legibility of information on packaging, minimum font sizes, the descending order of ingredients by weight at the time of production and the listing of food additives.

Comparison of European countries

A survey of consumers in Germany shows that the Nutri-Score® system is the most widely recognised and understood of nutritional labelling systems (e.g. BLL model, Keyhole® or MRI model).

As stated in the coalition agreement, enhanced nutritional labelling will be introduced in Germany, but initially this will not be mandatory. The national legislative process is planned for 2020 and must be approved by Brussels.

In France, Nutri-Score® was introduced as a voluntary labelling system in 2017. Nutritional labelling has subsequently become mandatory in France. Belgium and Spain followed in 2018 in the form of a voluntary commitment by the private sector. The introduction of nutrition labelling is also being discussed in Portugal, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Thus, there is currently a mishmash of national regulations in Europe. Some manufacturers (e.g. Nestlé, Iglo) and retailers (Albert Hejn (NL), Delhaize (BE), Aldi Suisse (CH, 2020) are now taking matters into their own hands and implementing voluntary nutrition labelling for their products using the Nutri-Score® model. However, some of these products are based on different units.

Will there be a uniform system in Europe?

The Member States have not yet been able to agree on a single model at European level.

Some Member States have stated that their regional economies would be negatively affected because of the individual influence on purchasing decisions. Regional products, such as certain cheeses, olive oils or sausages, for example, would be consumed less if labelled.

According to the OECD, colour-coded ‘traffic light’ systems increase the number of consumers likely to purchase a healthier option by about 18%, which leads to a 4% reduction in calorie intake. Consumer advocates support the introduction of uniform nutritional labelling in the EU.


On 30 April 2019, the European Commission registered the citizens’ initiative ‘Pro Nutri-Score’ in its Decision 2019/718. The initiative now has until 8 May 2020 to collect at least one million votes from at least seven EU Member States supporting the initiative. The European Commission must then take action.