James & Wells launch service to assist Kiwi F&B businesses leverage new food standards regulations

With the deadline here for food and beverage businesses to comply with new standards regulating nutrition and health claims, national intellectual property (IP) specialists James & Wells has introduced a new service line to ensure Kiwis make the most of the opportunities the change presents.

A statement from James and Wells says that previously a product label claiming, for example, ‘calcium for strong bones’ had no regulatory framework in New Zealand, and therefore offered no reassurance to consumers or our export markets.

However, as of January 18, 2016 all health claims must be backed by certain pre-approved nutritional profiles. There is also a framework in place to secure a “monopoly” for a novel health claim (termed a ‘self-substantiated health claim’) by companies that have unique functional food or beverage products not covered by the currently pre-approved health claims.

Peter Brown, head of James & Wells’ food and beverage innovation team, says these new regulations essentially offer a new option for food and beverage companies to identify, secure and maximise their competitive edge.

“Kiwis need to see the new regulations as an opportunity rather than a hurdle. A health claim allows a premium charge on a product, making it a valuable asset to any food and beverage business. The asset can be built into a business’ brand strategy and leveraged in alternative revenue streams such as licensing agreements and exit strategies.”

James & Wells’ specialist team will provide strategic advice on how to maximise the value of health claims for their client’s current and future products, enabling them to leverage the IP assets through their branding, packaging and advertising. The team will also assist with the application process for self-substantiated health claims.

Managing partner and trade mark expert Carrick Robinson says that highly sophisticated companies that manufacture novel food and beverage products should be looking at self-substantiated claims to market as their competitive edge.

“The key to self-substantiated health claims is that only your company gets to use the new health claim, and the scientific evidence submitted during the health claim approval process remains confidential to your company.

“Not only do these regulations bring New Zealand more in line with international standards, the health claims will be an asset to Kiwi exporters as it will create a point of difference, continuing to build New Zealand’s reputation as a quality source of products”, he says.

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