Labelling and packaging guidelines for tea brands in the US

The market for artisan tea is huge and growing fast, especially as entrepreneurs wake up to the power of niche tea and unique blends that customers will pay a premium to enjoy. But before launching any new tea business or product line, it’s important to understand the rules and guidelines that regulate the industry and ensure good practises. For example, there are various important requirements for labelling and packaging in the US and Canada, and it’s vital to adhere to these to demonstrate that you are selling a quality product that complies with relevant food and safety guidelines within your market.

Key things to know about US food packaging and labelling

There are a large number of rules and regulations that apply to the way that food is packaged and labelled in the US and Canada and there can be variations between states, particularly where there are additional requirements.

Under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), all food products must be clearly labelled with:

1. A declaration of responsibility which includes the name and address of the manufacturer, distributor or packer
2. A declaration of identity which makes it clear what the contents are. This will be shown on the main packaging label and in the supporting ingredients description
3. A declaration of net quantity, uses or servings. This must be provided in metric form

The Uniform Packaging and Labeling Regulation (UPLR) and NIST Handbook 130 provide similar guidance and also require details of imports. You will need to provide information on the origin of your tea and the importer as necessary.

For anything food related, it is also mandatory to list ingredients and you need to provide any nutritional information. Ingredients must be listed in their content order, from largest to smallest. Some ingredients can be listed as ‘natural flavors’ for example, rather than chemical elements. Details of this can be found within the detailed provisions for the states and markets in which you plan to sell your artisan teas.

In terms of packaging for tea, this must be appropriate to the contents. For many high-end tea manufacturers and brands, this will mean a foil inner to keep the teabags, pyramids or loose tea fresh, and a designed cardboard box outer. Some retailers will also sell loose tea in designed tins. The packaging must be food-grade appropriate and your tea manufacturer can provide information about this.

You must also provide contact details and a route for further information for any customers who require it. Many brands also choose to add labels that designate the contents of their tea as organic, fair trade or vegan, for example. The relevant accrediting organizations have information about this and can provide details about the processes and standards needed to display the marque.

How bespoke tea manufacturers can help

When you work with tea manufacturers that offer a full package of tea development services – from strategy, formulation, design and packaging through to the launch of your tea brand, you’ll gain instant access to expert knowledge about the latest labelling and packaging guidelines for tea brands in any market. To find out more, please contact Blue Ocean Tea.