The food manufacturing business is booming. From small artisanal brands that are creating their very first product to big companies that make entire lines of products, it’s a field full of variety.
When it comes to nutrition analysis software, there is also a lot of variety out there. A quick online search for nutrition calculators or nutrition facts panel makers yields a ton of results. For first-time food manufacturers, it can be incredibly overwhelming to choose one type of software to use for your nutrition facts panel. That’s why today I’d like to discuss some of the features you should be looking for so you can do a nutrition analysis software comparison and choose the best product for your business.
Key Features for a Nutrition Analysis Software Comparison
Before we get started with the features, I want to clarify what I mean by online nutrition analysis software. I’m not talking about CD ROM software you purchase online, ship to your home, and install on your computer. Not only is this software outdated, it typically isn’t very user-friendly. What I am talking about is software you create an account with and use online from any computer.
Now that you have a good sense of what nutrition analysis software is, let’s check out some of the essential features a nutrition analysis software should include. That way, when you peruse your options online, you will know what criteria to use to compare them.
- A Large Database: One of the first things you’ll want to check for when looking at an online nutrition analysis software is a large database of ingredients. The best software typically has databases with at least 17,000 ingredients, so anything over that almost guarantees you’ll be able to find the ingredients you used in your product. You are also going to want to make sure the database is USDA-compiled. This means the nutritional information for each ingredient is highly accurate and has undergone a series of tests over time to determine its precise nutritional value. As such, you’ll get the most accurate nutrition results for your product.
- An “Add Your Own Ingredient” Feature: This is one of the most valuable features to look for in an online nutrition analysis software because only the best ones have it! Software like LabelCalc, for example, has a feature that allows you to add any ingredient you can’t find in the database. Sometimes, food manufacturers use a special or uncommon product in their recipes that may not show up in any databases, but this feature allows you to enter it anyway, along with its nutritional values (you’ll need to check the product’s packaging or website for this) and use it in your recipe analysis. Trust me when I say this feature is a lifesaver for food manufacturers!
- Video Demos: Another great feature to look for in an online nutrition analysis software are free video demos that show you how to properly use and navigate the software. In my experience, food manufacturers are often short on time and can’t afford to spend hours learning the ins and outs of complex software. Video demos will save you both an incredible amount of time and frustration. Of course, choosing a user-friendly software is also a must, so be sure to watch the demos before you sign up for an account. This way, you can get a sense of how easy it is to use the software.
- FDA-Compliance: This is a must for any food manufacturer looking to get their product on retail shelves. An FDA-compliant software ensures your nutrition facts panel will follow all the detailed guidelines the FDA has for nutrition labels. Using an FDA-compliant software saves you a ton of time you would otherwise spend sifting through lengthy FDA documents to learn the details of labeling. With FDA-compliant software, the results of your nutrition analysis will automatically be generated in the most current FDA nutrition facts format. It’s a bonus if the software has various FDA-approved label formats so you can easily choose which one works best for your packaging.
- Expert Consulting: Sometimes food manufacturers run into problems or have questions about the nutrition analysis of their product. For example, a food manufacturer using food additives or color additives in their product may not know exactly how to list the additive on their ingredient list. When this happens, it is great to get advice from someone who is well-versed in food labeling. Software like LabelCalc offers expert consulting for these instances, and clients find it incredibly valuable as it saves them research time and gives them peace of mind that they are doing everything correctly.
Choosing a Nutrition Analysis Software
Now that you know which criteria to look for when comparing nutrition analysis software, you can feel more confident when choosing one for your food manufacturing businesses. Remember, there are many kinds of software out there that offer low pricing and as such are very tempting, but always come back to the above features to make sure you are getting good quality for the money you spend. High quality software, like LabelCalc, will cost you somewhere between $200-$250 per recipe analysis, so use that amount as a guidepost when assessing quality. You do, after all, get what you pay for, so make sure the software you choose is equipped with all the features you need in order to make the nutrition analysis process easy and stress-free.