The Food Standards Agency is failing to consult designers on a European Commission proposal about food labelling, despite canvassing retailers, manufacturers and the advertising industry. Why is it important for designers to be involved in the food-labelling debate?

What a fantastic opportunity to create an information graphics icon, a classic that will live on food packs for years to come. The past has shown that the best people to create these icons are designers, not retailers and manufacturers who put sales above all else, or ad men who deal in narrative rather than symbols. The European Commission is doing what it has to, but the Food Standards Agency needs to speak to the right people – the confusion is creating visual noise, making people switch off and rendering action pointless.
Jon Davies, Managing director, Holmes & Marchant

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Why? For the obvious reason that involves conveying visually important information that functions well in the context of its usage.
The implication of not involving experts in food branding and design is that we may not have a ‘neutral’ hat on. This is a rather narrow-minded and bureaucratic mindset, considering the experience we have of working across a multitude of food brands. To exclude design experts is a decision that could lead to a camel of a solution that will be a bitch to work with.
Jonathan Ford, Creative partner, Pearlfisher

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Design is all about clear and simple communication that engages the consumer. These fundamentals are at the core of our industry. A lack of engagement with designers is surely missing a trick. The creation of these mandatories is, at the core, the creation of a graphic language. This needs to have an empathy with brands and categories, and at best promote engagement beyond pure functionality. Food-labelling mandatories inform better when well-designed. So, why wouldn’t you want designers on board?
Martin Grimer, Executive creative director, Blue Marlin

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For the Food Standards Agency not to consult designers who deal with consumers and this type of issue on a daily basis seems a little odd. Designers are best placed to understand consumer reactions, they are able to think strategically and translate this into design detail. It’s second nature for designers to do what the FSA is trying to do. After the furore over the ‘traffic light system’, this feels like a disaster waiting to happen. Keep it simple, think of the consumer and consult a designer.
John Morris, Managing director, Design Bridge

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