Food Label Translation Services

Clear and accurate food labelling in any language.

Food Label Translation

Food label translation is one of our top specialisms. Leading food brands and major retailers trust our translations for both their technical accuracy and marketing flair. Food clients include Costa, Kettle Foods, Iceland Foods, as well as  Thorntons. 

“Great work, very happy, we’ll be doing a lot more business with you.” – Jonathan Davies, Cambrian Pet Foods Ltd.
“Hello Bea. Thank you very much for the extreme swift and professional turn around. This is greatly appreciated and I will look to contact you in the future for further translations.” – Victor Kalbskopf, t-licious GmbH

Food labels are very different to other areas of translation. There are both marketing and technical aspects. Because we are specialists, we take this into account. All our texts are human authored by native professional translators. We also check for accuracy against approved terminology for EU markets.

Food Label Translation and Legal Compliance

If you need a compliance report, then we can help. You should think about this before starting translation.

This is especially important if your packaging is from a different jurisdiction. For example, FDA requirements are very different to EU regulations. This means that you need to adapt a US product to sell within the EU, and vice versa. Step 1 is to ensure you meet your local requirements. Step 2 is then to see what requirements you need to meet in your target markets. Do this before you commission translation. Otherwise you risk having to start again.

We produce a faithful translation of your original text. This means that if your source text is none compliant, then the translations will be too. For example, if you miss an ingredient in the original text, it will also be missing in the translation. Similarly, if you describe the wrong ingredient, we won’t necessarily know.

There is a key to avoiding this kind of problem. Make sure you are happy with the source text before we start work.

Within the European Union, food labelling requirements are broadly similar country to county. However, there can still be country-specific differences. Each country may also apply regulations differently.

Food labelling and Brexit

People often ask about the translation impact of Brexit. Quite simply, if we are translating for an EU market, there won’t be any change. The only difference is that over time, the UK may diverge from EU rules. This would mean that you need to adapt UK packaging before we translate. This is a bit like the US example we give above.

Marketing Aspects of Food Label Translation

Be careful with country-specific references or plays on words. They probably won’t translate. If we translate a marketing message, we need license in how we work. A literal translation is likely to be dull or confusing to your customers.

Sometimes the boundary between compliance and marketing is quite thin. For example, imagine a product containing the word “slim” in the English title. You need to establish the slimming properties of the product. You are also likely to have to substantiate any claims in each target market. Different countries may have different requirements.

Our food translators specialise in marketing. This ensures that we convey your message clearly to your target audience. They are also target language native, and qualified in translation. This means you get the sharpness and accuracy of a native linguist.

A few Better Languages food label translation facts:

  • Most translated language this year: French. We have several food label clients who sell into France. They either have country specific packaging, or target French amongst other languages. We often supply French on multi-lingual food labelling.
  • Most languages on a single order: 40. And yes, they all appeared on a single product!
  • Smallest food label translation order: a single ingredient change (yes a single word). It is quite common to have ingredient changes to existing products. For example there may be a change in legislation. Or there could be changes to the recipe. Maybe a new supplier uses slightly different ingredients.
  • Our most unusual language on food labelling so far is Kazakh. We thought this was unusual at the time, but these days we do lots of Kazakh.
  • Highest volume on a single project: An entire product range of several hundred SKUs into Hungarian.
  • Language variants: we can localise for any specific world market. For example we do a lot of Canadian French. With food labelling it is much the same as French for France. However, the Canadian legal framework is quite different. There are also important linguistic differences.
  • We translate a lot of Arabic food labelling. Here the issue is how to localise effectively. Most clients want to target more than one Arabic market. This gives compliance issues as different states have different requirements. The written language is the same, MSA (Modern Standard Arabic). However there is is different wording needed for different territories.

Localisation of Food Label Translations

Localisation is the process of adapting to a local market. With food there can be important issues which aren’t about translation. For example, supplying food products containing alcoholic ingredients or meat which is not Halal. This is inappropriate for an Islamic country. We can translate your alcohol ingredients perfectly, but your product will be stopped at port.

The key to success is to use a specialist translation company. We are familiar with up to date terminology. This ensures your product is correct in your target market. Context is also very helpful. Pictures of the product help our work.

Foods and Medicines

You also need to consider that different countries classify products differently. One country may class your product as a dietary supplement, whilst another may consider it a medicine. Each will have different regulatory requirements.

“Thanks for this Nicole. All very efficient. We will come back to you when we next need anything.” – Kate Willis, Sharpham Park

Proofing and Checking Artwork

We can check print proofs and sign off artwork for any of our translations. We charge for this, but it is extremely important. It is easy to underestimate your risk of layout problems. Especially if your team don’t speak the language they are working with.

There can be important style issues. Things like different punctuation and layout in different languages. This works best when we work with your artwork team.

Sorry, we don’t check artwork we haven’t translated. This is often problematic.

We need a low res PDF of the finished artwork to provide this service. Clearly the text needs to be readable!

Typesetting Food Labels

We can typeset most languages and formats. Just ask for a quote.

Right to left languages need special care. Products such as Illustrator and InDesign corrupt them, and render the text unreadable. This occurs in both Middle Eastern languages and many Indian languages.

The solution is to use our specialist service. We supply either an outlined EPS file, or a print ready PDF. You can re-import the text as live text in the latest versions of the CS suite.

“Great work, very happy, we’ll be doing a lot more business with you.” – Jonathan Davies, Cambrian Pet Foods Ltd.

Read more

We’ve written some blog articles on food labelling which you may find helpful:

Front of pack labelling

Food labelling for international packaging

5 tips for accurate multilingual food labelling

we are also happy to discuss any potential food label translation project by phone on+44 (0)115 9788980, or you can use our contact form to discuss your requirements.