Food Packaging Translation

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Food packaging translation is a specialist area of work. If you are a food manufacturer or retailer, there are a number of issues to consider.

Legal compliance

Before you think about translation, is your existing packaging legally compliant for your target market? If you are a US company selling into the UK, or vice versa, having the text in English doesn’t make it compliant. This is because FDA and EU rules are quite different. So step 1 is to legalise your packaging. We can put you in touch with a compliance specialist to help with this.

Food packaging and Brexit

We are often asked about the impact of Brexit. As food packaging is heavily regulated, Brexit may have an impact. What will that be? The short answer is that we don’t currently know. At least not for the UK. Over time we expect some regulatory divergence between the UK and and EU, but this is some time away. There is unlikely to be much change during the transition period of around 2 years after Brexit in March 2019. This means that any change is at least 3 years away.

When it comes to translation, Brexit will have little impact, as you will still need to meet EU requirements if selling into EU markets. The likely long term change is that there could be an additional compliance step if you need to change UK packaging for the EU.

Steps towards translation

We normally need an editable source text, so it is ideal if you have your pack copy in an Excel or Word format. Step 2 (after legal compliance), is therefore to prepare your pack copy in an accessible format for the translation team. It is usually sensible to have the translations next to the English text, so Excels work very well, with the text divided up paragraph by paragraph or section by section.

We can work from uneditable text, so as existing pack artwork, but you will be paying considerably more, as it is time consuming for us to manually re-type the text. This will also be at your risk.

Layout considerations

Most target languages are longer than English. Layout can therefore be an issue. For example Spanish and French are typically around 25 – 30% longer than English. If your UK pack copy is struggling for space, it will be a challenge with the translations. A common approach is to cut the text, for example removing any marketing text, the trouble is that you probably want the marketing text to encourage consumers to buy your product.


Food packaging translation is very time consuming if done properly. For example we do terminology checks against approved EU terminology. Therefore you need to allow both time and budget for translation to be done properly.

Read more about Food Packaging Translation

We have a number of resources on our website which you may find helpful:

  1. Our food label translation page.
  2. Our top 10 tips for packaging translation. This article gives more information about how to prepare for packaging translation.
  3. 5 top tips for multilingual food labelling.