Consumer perception in nutrition labeling
Today there is a greater demand for healthier, safer, and more customer-friendly products. The emerging role of labeling in food and organic products has become an important help at the time of purchase. The goal is to enable consumers to make healthy food and environmental choices, increasing consumer awareness of certain attributes of the products they use and consume.
The Participation Table (MPAC) is a discussion forum and a working group made up of federations and associations of consumers and users. The MPAC meets periodically and discusses current issues, new trends, and consumption habits, analyzing the perception of consumers and users, exchanging experiences, ideas and positions. In addition, they seek joint solutions and ties are established between the administration, consumers and the business environment.
The latest survey conducted by the MPAC on consumer habits of 2020 reveals the distrust that consumers have about the information they receive from food labeling. 49% of those surveyed consider themselves to be well informed about food, compared to just over half, who admit to feeling uninformed. During the last years in the field of food, the consumer felt that he had enough information. However, due to rapid access to a large amount of information, a significant percentage admit not feeling entirely well informed.
The main source of consumer information continues to be product labeling (53%), but it decreases five points compared to 2019. The consumer wants to know more about the products they purchase, they are more active and demanding, but trust in the information you receive does not exceed 60%. The Internet continues to gain followers as a source of information, but the information can be confusing or erroneous. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the information that the consumer receives, so that they do not abandon the labeling in front of digital media. Also, they recognize that they are not constantly reading the labeling. The population that claims to read labels increased slightly (45%), but those who declared never to do so increased by three points. These data make us reflect on the structure and content of the labeling, in order to adapt it to the needs of consumers, reality and truthfulness in the future.
Of those surveyed, 39% consider the information on the labeling useful and 22% continue to believe that it is confusing. 64% claim greater simplicity, followed by 55% who request that it contain more informative and less technical information since on various occasions it is perceived as confusing and / or unintelligible by the average consumer. In addition, 65% of those surveyed want the letter to be larger. These aspects are the most demanded by the consumer.
The consumer continues to be an observer, is practical, analytical and critical in reading the label. The composition and ingredients, the expiration date and the place of origin are the informative elements considered most relevant. The type of brand or the fact that it incorporates frontal nutritional information by color is of less importance.
The survey carried out reveals the worrying decrease in the importance given to the expiration date. Almost a quarter do not know the difference between "expiration date" (indicates when a product is no longer safe) and "best before date" (indicates when a product begins to lose its physical qualities, but its consumption is still safe). Also, the percentage of those who consume products after the expiration date increases (60%), with the consequent risk that it may pose to health.
Of the nutritional labeling, 65% of those surveyed pay more attention to fats and sugars. Very closely followed is salt, which barely worries a quarter of the population. On the other hand, interest in protein content increases, which shows, together with the previous data, that the consumer is interested in knowing the nutritional aspects of the food they eat. Regarding nutritional claims such as low-fat, light, sugar-free, etc., it is positive, although the percentage drops from 67% in 2019 to 52% in 2020. However, there are 23% who value them negatively due to the lack of credibility, plus they are more expensive.
Labeling continues to be the main source of information recognized by consumers (53%) followed by the Internet (20%). Other options used are consulting specialists or specialized publications to learn about nutrition and healthy eating habits. The problem posed by the Internet is that some of the information may be confusing, false or erroneous, thus promoting misinformation or the viralization of hoaxes. Young people perceive that they have less availability of information. Likewise, university students consider they do not have enough information about food and mass consumption. Due to this, it is necessary to find formulas to improve the information that the consumer receives and not to abandon the labeling in front of digital media. The age ranges among consumers looking for the information on the label are 51 to 65 and 36 to 50 years. Searching for information on the Internet and social networks increases as age decreases. Those over 65 years of age, by far, are the ones who least seek information (31%). It has been seen that the higher the level of education, the greater the interest in reading labels. In the same way, at a lower level of studies, the percentage of consumers who admit not to read them grows. The same occurs in the search for information on the Internet, the search is greater when the level of consumer education is higher.
Consumers confirm the need to improve the design and content of food labeling. Information on the label is useful to 39% of respondents, 22% find it confusing, another 22% difficult to see, and 10% find it unimportant. The most relevant thing compared to data from previous years is that there is a high percentage of consumers who have a negative perception of the labeling. More than half of consumers think that labels should be simpler, bigger letters, use less technical words and 32% are interested in having the consumption portion indicated. Clearly seeing the origin of the product and knowing how it was produced are factors that influence the purchase decision. The price option disappears from the top three positions. The type of brand or the way it incorporates nutritional information by color is judged as minor. On the other hand, in minority percentages, there is an increase in concepts such as intolerance warnings and certification seals. All this indicates that the consumer demands more specific information.
More than 90% of those surveyed are aware of the importance of diet on their health. These data are consistent with the concern for quality and personal preferences when choosing the product and the place of purchase. Front labeling has a positive effect on healthy food choices. Local studies with adequate methodological quality are needed to be able to identify the most effective labeling format in each country. Its implementation as a public health policy must be accompanied by strategies to improve access to healthy food, promote physical activity and provide nutritional education to consumers. By improving consumer protection and increasing information, nutrition labeling can enhance the well-being of consumers by helping them make informed decisions.
At Epixlife you can find recommendations on the foods that are most appropriate for the optimal functioning of your body.
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