Food labelling

Today all pre-packaged foods and drinks manufactured in Malawi must clearly display labels on the pack – this is mandatory under the Certification Marks Regulations (24). These labels can help you understand the nutrient and calorie count of the products you are buying.

When it comes to sugars, below you’ll find some useful information about where you can find out just how much are in a product.

Ingredients list

You’ll find the ingredients label on the front or back of pack. Here all the ingredients that have been used to make the product will be shown in order of weight, according to the proportion of ingoing weight (m/m) at the time of the manufacture of the food.

If you see ‘sugar’ listed, then it is the same type of sugar that you find in your home (sucrose). There may also be other ingredients that contain sugars such as fruit, fruit juice or other sugar ingredients e.g. dextrose or glucose.

Nutritional information Panel

The second place you will be able to find out about sugars is on the nutritional information panel. Although the nutritional label is not a mandatory requirement, many products display it to help you understand the nutrient and calorie count.

This label can be found typically on the back or side of pack and will list the major nutrients in a product, including energy (in kilocalories (kcal), known as calories), and the amounts of fat, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt. Some products also show the nutrient content in terms of per portion as a percentage of the Daily Value.

Sugars will be listed as carbohydrates (which usually include both starches and sugars) and will use the phrase “of which total sugars” to show how much sugars there are per 100g/100ml of product.

Identifying ‘added sugars’

We often get asked as well about identifying ‘added sugars’ (i.e. sugars that have been added during food and drink manufacturing). It is not possible to distinguish naturally occurring sugars from added sugars in a laboratory given they are the same molecule. However, some countries are now moving towards ‘added sugars’ labelling. For example, the US is introducing ‘added sugars’ onto labels of pre-packaged foods, as well as sugars from added syrups, honey and concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.


  • There is no such thing as 'hidden sugar'. It must always be declared on the food label.
  • Added sugars (as known as free sugars) are those used in manufacturing or added by the cook or consumer. Naturally occurring sugars are those found naturally in a product e.g fruit or vegetables