The eight consumer approaches to reading food labels

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 26th August 2009

Grocery shoppers are heavily swayed by what’s prominently displayed on food labels and scrutinise food labels based on a number of factors, new research from US-based ingredients firm Tate & Lyle has shown.
The study found 55 per cent of consumers now focus on nutrition facts and ingredient labels as health concerns escalate.

8 Approaches to Label Reading

From blogs and online forums to news reports and diet trends, today’s time-pressed consumers are inundated with messages about healthy dining from multiple sources. Consumers advised Tate & Lyle of eight approaches to label reading that help them determine which food and beverage items make the final cut.

supermarket shopping

No. 1: Is it a New Product? Many consumers are brand loyal and will scrutinise the labels of new products to determine if trial is necessary.

No. 2: Who is it for? Adult consumers aren’t the only one’s trending more toward healthier eating. Parents are exhibiting increased interest in reading labels if food and beverages are for their children.

No. 3: Everyday or Indulgent Item? Consumers are more diligent about reading packages of everyday staples. They also report having an interest in healthy indulgence.

No. 4: Current Media Reports. Consumers are more inclined to read labels if they read or watch diet and nutrition feature stories by key media influencers (e.g. Oprah Winfrey).

No. 5: Influence of a Prior Diet Program. Former dieters have learned to look for carbs and fibre from diets like Atkins and Weight Watchers.

No. 6: Front Package Claims. When specific health claims are made on the front of packages, consumers also tend to scrutinise the back and side panels of packages for additional information.

No. 7: On a Diet. Consumers focus on the most important aspects of the package that are dictated by the diet they are currently following.

No. 8: In a Hurry. Consumers, especially parents, are time-crunched and tend to read labels quickly to stay on schedule.

Many times, consumer education starts and ends with packaging, according to Lisa Sanders, Ph.D., R.D., Nutrition Scientist, Tate & Lyle. With thousands of consumer brands flooding supermarket shelves, the majority of consumers report two major reasons for reading labels.

“Consumers want to make healthy choices and more than 60 per cent of them rely on food and beverage labels to do this,” Dr Sanders explained. “Research also shows that 50 per cent of consumers look to labels when they are purposely trying to add specific nutrients, like fibre, to their diets.”