HealthFocus® Study Reveals Front of Pack Labels Impact Shopper Food Choices

January 19, 2011

CHICAGO, Jan. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — According to a new study conducted by HealthFocus® International, almost half (45%) of shoppers in the US say food manufacturers should have to label things like calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium clearly on labels. Shoppers say their top reason for using label information on food and beverage packages is to decide which products have too much of an ingredient they are trying to avoid. And what are shoppers trying to avoid? According to this study, calories is what most of them want to see clearly labeled.

In an effort to curb the obesity epidemic and help Americans make healthier food choices, the FDA is examining the impact of Front-of-Pack (FOP) labeling for food and beverage packages. FOP labels, prominently showing the content of nutrients and other ingredients, are currently posted on the front of some packaged goods. However, the information varies from product to product, with some packages displaying symbols, while others show the actual levels of nutrients. This makes comparing one product to another confusing for shoppers.

The institute of Medicine (IOM) studied the various types of information currently available on front-of-pack and made an October 2010 recommendation to the FDA that calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium should be clearly displayed on the front of food and beverage packages.

Both indulgent and better-for-you products would be impacted by Front-of-Pack Labels

The HealthFocus® International study also tested the impact of the IOM recommendation on shoppers’ intent to purchase different products. Results showed that both “better-for-you” and “indulgent” categories could be impacted by front-of-pack information. When shown packages with and without FOP labels, fewer shoppers said they would buy products like frozen pizza when it had the front of pack label, while the purchase intent for some cookie brands actually went up. Purchase intent for pasta dropped with the front of pack information. So the impact can most clearly be seen on a product by product basis.

Obese Shoppers Not Changing Decisions

Shoppers who are obese do not have a greater interest in front-of-pack labeling than other shoppers according to the HealthFocus® study. However, 60% of all shoppers do say that they believe front of pack labeling will help them to eat more healthfully. Obese shoppers actually read labels less often than shoppers of normal weight (36% vs. 55%) and they admit to being less likely to pay attention to their diets (66% vs. 87%), so the overall impact of front-of-pack labeling may be smaller on this group.

About HealthFocus® International

HealthFocus® International specializes in understanding consumer attitudes towards health and nutrition and helping to apply those insights to brand development and innovation. The HealthFocus® database, dating back nearly 20 years, is the largest global database available on shopper health and nutrition. The syndicated HealthFocus Trend Survey, conducted in the U.S. and 18 other markets, is the most in-depth, up-to-date study of its kind. HealthFocus® International offers full-service marketing research capabilities overseen by experienced consultants with either brand marketing or nutritional science backgrounds. Our experience helps you apply the knowledge from your reports or studies to your brands.

HealthFocus International is a division of Irwin Broh Research, Chicago, IL.

    Julie Johnson

SOURCE HealthFocus International

Source: newswire

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