In an attempt to tackle the U.S. obesity epidemic, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working to establish a federal regulation that would require all chain restaurants to display calorie counts on their menus. Starbucks recently announced its plan to join McDonald’s in getting ahead of the curve by posting the information before the rule kicks in.

While some parts of the country, including New York City, have already implemented the calorie information requirements, the national FDA regulation isn’t expected to take effect until next year.
However, there is much to be gained by being a leading company willing to spearhead the change. Brands that are early adopters appear flexible and adaptable, and can often gain a positive edge with consumers who strongly support the new regulation. Proactively posting calorie counts prior to regulation frames Starbucks as transparent with nothing to hide.

Starbucks will reportedly start posting calorie information at its more than 11,000 U.S. locations next week. It remains to be seen whether the highly-visible nutritional information will actually impact how consumers order. But PR savvy companies like McDonald’s and Starbucks are now getting free press by moving quickly on actions that they would have been forced to take within the next year anyway. Smart move.