GMO Labeling Regulations 

In May of 2014, Vermont became the first state to require GMO labeling. Last week, Fooddive.com reported that Vermont’s Attorney General Bill Sorrell had adopted regulations to require labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients statewide.

The new rules won’t go into effect until July of 2016, to give all concerned adequate time to comply. According to reports from the Associated Press, there have been months of public outreach and comments from producers, retailers and consumers, and after approval by the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules.

The GMO labeling movement has seen differing opinions across the nation from various groups since it began years ago. Last March, The USDA had a two-day summit on the GMO issue, and a House Committee on Agriculture hearing heard six witnesses speak about the futility of mandatory GMO labeling.

So far, legistlation seems to be maintaining parity in states that are addressing this issue. Alaska and Idaho are debating it now also. The public opinion is shifting and the industry is responding accordingly.

Last November, Colorado voters defeated a bill to require GMO labeling. At this stage, only three states – Connecticut, Maine and Vermont – have approved legislation that would require that genetically-modified foods be labelled. Similar efforts are under way in several other states. None yet have been put in effect.

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Strong 2015 Outlook for Food Manufacturers

According to Credit Suisse, the 159 year old Swiss finance giant, lower gas prices, industry changes and other factors should help the retail food sector in 2015.

Robert Moskow, an analyst with Credit Suisse, said the benefits of lower prices and an overall healthier economy will be more broadly enjoyed by all demographics in 2015.”

Moskow said that lower gas prices may not point to more sales for the packaged foods sector, based on 34 years of government data. He said when gas prices go down people eat out more often, and when gas prices rise, people tend to look for grocery savings.

“While not a game-changer for U.S. food,” he continued, “we believe that the stronger economic backdrop will improve fundamental performance in 2015, especially in relation to the unusually weak 2014.

“Lower gas prices, a positive adjustment in SNAP benefits, and the slow but continuous improvement in employment should help improve consumer confidence, especially among lower-income consumers who have yet to enjoy any of the benefits of the broader economic recovery,” Moskow said.

“Wal-Mart estimates that the SNAP cutbacks at the end of 2013 represented a 0.7% drag on its food sales in 2014, and lower gas prices are likely to boost U.S. disposable income by at least $80 billion. These factors aren’t game changers, but they certainly must come as a relief for manufacturers and consumers alike.”

Other trends in the food manufacturing sector include grocers seeking to expand private label and store brands to entice value-seeking shoppers. On the high-end, Moskow predicts more consumers transitioning to organic foods while they also demand more transparency in labeling and a move toward healthier nutrition.

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