Knowledge for better food systems

FSA food labelling survey

The Food Standards Agency has published a piece of work undertaken by IPSOS MORI which looked at consumer attitudes to and behaviours resulting from food labelling.
The Food Standards Agency has published a piece of work undertaken by IPSOS MORI which looked at consumer attitudes to and behaviours resulting from food labelling. The main objectives were to:
  • determine what information people refer to when shopping, and to what extent different types of labelling information affect purchase decisions
  • explore behaviour around country of origin information
  • highlight any issues regarding the user-friendliness of food labels
  • investigate how people interact with labels in the home
  • develop insights based on advanced technologies such as eye-tracking
The key findings on general food labelling were as follows:
  • there is very low engagement with food labels for habitual purchases – as a minimum requirement people need and want to see clearly the food's description, the brand, the 'use by' or 'best before' date, and the price
  • individual dietary requirements are key in determining the use of and engagement with different elements of food labels
  • consumers avoid reading the back of food packs by using words or symbols on the front as ‘beacons’ to quickly guide shopping
  • non-regulated marketing claims and graphics can mislead, overshadow, clutter or disengage consumers with mandatory legislation
  • large store brands reassure on safety
  • well known brands have a halo effect – signifying quality and safety, and distracting from other information
  • the importance of food label information increases when buying for other people, particularly babies and young children
  • 'best before' and 'use by’ are confusing terms – low understanding leads to relaxed attitudes towards date labels once in the home

On country-of-origin labelling the report found that:·
  • country of origin information is not a priority when shopping in the supermarket
  • country of origin information impacts on different levels:
    • safety is a universal priority for consumers, but they are easily reassured about safety. The label ‘British’ is an important benchmark
    • consumers engage more with terms such as 'organic'/'free range' if they are prioritising animal welfare. Animal welfare can be important to people but is rarely a factor in choice as consumers feel they are not given the information
    • food miles are low priority when shopping
    • authenticity is important for products that, in consumers' minds, are strongly associated with a particular country
    • country of origin information has greater influence in certain categories such as meat where some consumers feel more comfortable with locally sourced products

More information can be found here.
 

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