Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Policy Point Wednesday: Food Labels and Consumer Motivation

The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) recently partnered with several research teams, food corporations Tesco Stores Ltd and Euro Coop (European Community of Consumer Cooperatives,) and other organizations to study food and nutrition labels, calling this consortium the FLABEL project (Food Labelling to Advance Better Education for Life.)
In all research on nutrition labelling, there is a shortage of research actually testing the salience and use of nutritional information at the moment of choice (Point-of-Sale). To fill this void, the work package will investigate in-store use of labels and how much it can be increased by implementing an “ideal format” nutrition label.
Researchers tested different kinds of labeling, packaging, and ways of offering information to consumers to help guide their choices to better foods.  It found that, in general, consumers are capable of using existing nutritional information to rank foods from most to least healthy.  The most important finding of the study?  Consumers just...don't.

While consumers preferred to have complete nutritional information on products, their behavior most often showed that their preferences were driven by convenience rather than the information.  FLABEL researchers found that consumers spent between 25 and 100 milliseconds looking at the nutritional information, but that information did not change their buying behavior.

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