Advertisement

Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 104, Issue 5, pp e359–e363 | Cite as

Consumer Perceptions of Front-of-package Labelling Systems and Healthiness of Foods

  • Nathalie SavoieEmail author
  • Karine Barlow (Gale)
  • Karen L. Harvey
  • Mary Ann Binnie
  • Laura Pasut
Quantitative Research

Abstract

Objective

The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of four different front-of-package (FOP) labelling systems on consumer perception and purchasing intent of food, and whether these systems help consumers select a balanced pattern of eating.

Methods

The four FOP labelling systems studied included two nutrient-specific systems — the Traffic Light (TL) and the Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) — and two summary indicator systems — NuVal® and My-5®. Phase 1 was a small study with 36 participants to determine consumer understanding of the four FOP labelling systems and to inform the development of the questions for Phase 2, which consisted of a survey of 2,200 adults obtained through an online panel.

Results

Although the TL and GDA were rated similar to the Nutrition Facts table in terms of attributes, these FOP systems were considered more visually appealing. Consumers indicated that the numeric summary indicator systems did not provide sufficient information. Approximately half of the respondents indicated that the FOP systems would help them make healthier choices. However, due to the limitations of each, consumers often misinterpreted a food’s healthiness compared to their baseline perceptions. Similarly, consumers’ intent to purchase based on the FOP system did not show a consistent pattern.

Conclusion

Although well received by consumers, FOP labelling systems can lead to confusion depending on perceived understanding of the system used. The nutrient-specific systems tend to be preferred by most consumers; however, the overall impact on selecting healthier eating patterns has yet to be demonstrated.

Key Words

Front-of-package labelling systems consumer perceptions intent to purchase 

Résumé

Objectif

Évaluer l’impact de quatre systèmes d’étiquetage de face sur les perceptions des consommateurs et sur leurs intentions d’acheter des aliments, et voir si ces systèmes aident les consommateurs à équilibrer leur alimentation.

Méthode

Les quatre systèmes d’étiquetage de face à l’étude incluaient deux systèmes portant spécifiquement sur les substances nutritives — celui des «feux de circulation» (FC) et celui des Repères nutritionnels journaliers (RNJ) — et deux systèmes d’indicateurs sommaires — NuVal® et My-5®. Au cours de la phase 1, nous avons mené une petite étude avec 36 participants pour déterminer la compréhension des quatre systèmes par les consommateurs et pour éclairer l’élaboration de questions en vue de la phase 2, laquelle a consisté en un sondage auprès de 2 200 adultes dans le cadre d’un panel en ligne.

Résultats

Bien que les attributs des systèmes FC et RNJ aient reçu des évaluations semblables à ceux du tableau «Valeur nutritive», ces systèmes d’étiquetage de face ont été jugés plus attrayants visuellement. Les consommateurs ont indiqué que les systèmes d’indicateurs sommaires numériques ne leur fournissaient pas assez d’information. Environ la moitié des répondants ont indiqué que les systèmes d’étiquetage de face les aideraient à faire des choix plus sains. Cependant, en raison des contraintes de chaque système, les consommateurs ont souvent mal interprété la qualité sanitaire d’un aliment comparativement à leurs perceptions de référence. De même, les intentions d’achat des consommateurs fondées sur les systèmes d’étiquetage de face n’ont pas affiché une structure cohérente.

Conclusion

Malgré le fait qu’ils sont bien accueillis par les consommateurs, les systèmes d’étiquetage de face peuvent prêter à confusion selon la compréhension perçue du système utilisé. La plupart des consommateurs ont tendance à préférer les systèmes portant spécifiquement sur les substances nutritives, mais l’impact global de ces systèmes sur la sélection de modes de consommation plus sains reste à prouver.

Mots Clés

systèmes d’étiquetage de face perceptions du consommateur intention d’acheter 

References

  1. 1.
    Langlois K, Garriguet D, Findlay L. Diet composition and obesity among Canadian adults. Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 82-003-XPE. Health Rep 2009;20(4):11–20.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Katzmarzyk PT, Reeder BA, Elliott S, Joffres MR, Pahwa P, Raine KD, et al. Body mass index and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-cause mortality. Can J Public Health 2012;103(2):147–51.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cancer Care Ontario, Public Health Ontario. Taking Action to Prevent Chronic Disease: Recommendations for a Healthier Ontario, Technical Appendix. 2012. Available at: https://doi.org/www.oahpp.ca/takingaction/index.html (Accessed September 7, 2012).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising. Available at: https://doi.org/www.inspection.gc.ca/food/labelling/guide-to-food-labelling-and-advertising/eng/1300118951990/1300118996556 (Accessed September 7, 2012).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Health Canada. The Nutrition Facts Table. Available at: https://doi.org/www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/label-etiquet/nutrition/cons/index-eng.php (Accessed September 7, 2012).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Drenowski A, Maskowitz H, Reisner M, Krieger B. Testing consumer perception of nutrient content claims using conjoint analysis. Public Health Nutr 2010;13(5):688–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Food Standards Agency. Front-of-pack traffic light signpost labelling: Technical Guidance. Issue 2, November 2007. Available at: https://doi.org/www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/frontofpackguidance2.pdf (Accessed September 7, 2012).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Katz DL, Njike VY, Rhee LQ, Reingold A, Ayoob KT. Performance characteristics of NuVal and the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI). Am J Clin Nutr 2010;91(Suppl):1102S–1108S.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Drewnowski A. The Nutrient Rich Foods Index helps to identify healthy, affordable foods. Am J Clin Nutr 2010;9(Suppl):1095S–1101S.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    FoodDrinkEurope. GDAs—The facts. Your Choice. Available at: https://doi.org/www.gda.ciaa.eu/asp2/guideline-daily-amounts.asp (Accessed September 7, 2012)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Statistics Canada. Available at: https://doi.org/www.www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/index-eng.cfm (Accessed September 7, 2012).
  12. 12.
    Wartella EA, Lichtenstein AH, Boon CS (Eds.), Committee on Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols Report. Front-of-package nutrition rating systems and symbols (Phase I). Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine, 2010.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    NuVal LLC. NuVal 1-100: Nutrition made easy. Available at: https://doi.org/www.nuval.com/location (Accessed September 7, 2012).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wartella EA, Lichtenstein AH, Yaktine A, Nathan R (Eds.), Committee on Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols (Phase II). Washington: Institute of Medicine, 2012.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Feunekes GIJ, Gortemaker IA, Willems AA, Lion R, vanden Kommer M. Front-of-pack nutrition labelling: Testing effectiveness of different nutrition labelling formats front-of-pack in four European countries. Appetite 2008;50:57-70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hersey JC, Wohlgenant KC, Arsenault JE, Kosa KM, Muth MK. Effects of front-of-package and shelf nutrition labelling systems on consumers. Nutr Rev 2013;71(1):1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Health Canada. Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide. Available at: https://doi.org/www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php (Accessed September 7, 2012).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Grunert KG, Fernández-Celemín L, Wills JM, Storcksdieck Genannt Bonsmann S, Nureeva L. Use and understanding of nutrition information on food labels in six European countries. J Public Health 2010; DOI: 10.1007/s10389-009-0307-0.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Grunert KG, Wills JM, Fernández-Celemín L. Nutrition knowledge and use of understanding of nutrition information on food labels among consumers in the UK. Appetite 2010;55:177-89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hess R, Visschers VH, Siegrist M. The role of health-related, motivational and sociodemographic aspects in predicting food label use: A comprehensive study. Public Health Nutr 2012;15(3):407–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Steenhuis IH, Waterlander WE, de Mul A. Consumer food choices: The role of price and pricing strategies. Public Health Nutr 2011;14(12):2220–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Mozaffarian D, Afshin A, Benowitz NL, Bittner V, Daniels SR, Franch HA, et al. Population approaches to improve diet, physical activity, and smoking habits: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation 2012;126(12):1514–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathalie Savoie
    • 5
  • Karine Barlow (Gale)
    • 1
  • Karen L. Harvey
    • 2
  • Mary Ann Binnie
    • 3
  • Laura Pasut
    • 4
  1. 1.Canada BeefTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Egg Farmers of CanadaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Canadian Pork CouncilOttawaCanada
  4. 4.Nutridata Consulting ServicesTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Dairy Farmers of CanadaNational Nutrition ProgramsMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations