To help the growing number of health-conscious consumers select the product with the best nutritional value quickly, front-of-pack (FOP) labeling such as the Nutri-Score has been introduced. Research shows that this is already impacting consumers’ shopping behaviour. What are the effects, and what are the consequences for food manufacturers?
Growing consumer demand for transparency and healthier products
Accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Health & Well-Being trend globally moved into the spotlight of consumer’s interest. Data from Taste Tomorrow research show that 90% of global respondents read the packaging information, to learn more about the ingredients used (50%), the nutritional value (43%) and origin of the product (35%). The Taste Tomorrow data also show which nutritional values are the most searched for: sugar (45%), calories (44%), and fat fat (36%). 67% of worldwide respondents think removing fat will contribute to better health, and 66% think that removing sugar will lead to healthier people.
This demand for transparency and healthier products is seen among all markets and across all generations. Apps such as Yuka and Think Dirty, which allow users to simply scan barcodes to find out more about a product’s contents, already have millions of users.
Nutritional front of pack labeling: a worldwide topic
Due to this growing consumer demand for transparency and healthier products, and also due to the increase of diet-related chronic diseases, a lot of governments worldwide started to introduce nutritional FOP labelling systems for packed food products; some voluntary, some even mandatory.
While all of these systems intend to give consumers easier orientation for the nutritional value of packed food products, there are also a lot of differences between countries. One of the main differences is the purpose. Some systems are focused on minimizing negative components, like the UK traffic light system. Others, like the Nutri-Score system used by a number of EU countries, aim to minimize negative but also maximise positive components.
The effects of FOP labeling on consumer’s shopping behaviour
The main objective of FOP labeling is to help consumers quickly see and understand the essential nutritional value when purchasing packed foods. It therefore has the potential to guide consumers towards healthier diets. And it seems to be working. Secondary data analysis from The Institute of Grocery Distribution and Symrise Trendscope®) shows that the Nutri-Score already is affecting consumers’ shopping behaviour and buying preferences. 86% of French consumers clearly identify that the Nutri-Score makes it possible to qualify the nutritional quality of products.
The data reveal 4 effects on consumers:
Consumers are willing to pay more for healthier products (Joint Research Centre, 2020)
Consumers are willing to reduce their intake of calories and nutrients of public health concern (European Commission // Symrise Trendscope®)
Consumers lose trust and become suspicious of a label when an ‘unhealthy’ product like a candy bar is depicted by the FOP label as relatively nutritious (Harbaugh et al., 2011)
Consumers agree that it’s not necessary to avoid all ‘negative’ components, but that eating fewer can help achieve a healthier diet (The Institute of Grocery Distribution // Symrise Trendscope®)
The same findings emerge from The Taste Tomorrow research. These data reveal that 67% of worldwide respondents think removing fat will contribute to a better health, and 66% think that removing sugar will lead to healthier people.
How FOP labeling impacts food manufacturers
FOP labeling does not only impact consumers, it also has consequences for manufacturers of packed food. It challenges them to reformulate their recipes towards increased nutritional value, while keeping great taste. All worldwide FOP labeling systems challenge manufacturers to improve existing products by minimising negative components, like sugar, fat and salt. And some systems, like the Nutri-Score, also challenge them to improve products by adding positive components like proteins, fibres, fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts and rapeseed or olive oils. Minimising negative components is often the most challenging part: it calls for rebalancing the sweet and saltiness perception, but also for improving mouthfeel and masking off-notes. Puratos will be happy to help you in this process.
How can you, as a food manufacturer, meet consumers’ needs?
Improve the nutritional value of your products
Be transparent on contents, processes and the origins of your ingredients
Guarantee accurate product data to increase transparency and traceability from field to fork
Add or improve front-of-pack labeling
And last but not least: do all of this without every compromising taste and texture of the product.
Want to learn more about front-of-pack labelling? Discover how Puratos can help you improve the front-of-pack labelling of your products
to fulfil consumers’ demand for more nutritionally balanced products.