Consumers willing to pay more for label clarity

Posted by Isobel Drake on 16th July 2008

Consumers are demanding clearer labelling of key information, including that of country of origin, and are even willing to pay more to get it, according to research by Deloitte.

Consumers are aware that this request for further transparency may cost them more at the register, with 73 per cent indicating they would still want country of origin labeling even if it caused the prices of foods to increase slightly.

The survey of 1,110 American consumers found that more than two out of five consumers feel they currently don’t have enough information about the food they eat. Overall, consumers’ top three concerns about the food they eat were found to be the health of ingredients (61 per cent), possible use of chemical ingredients that are detrimental to their health (49 per cent) and the safety of the ingredients (49 per cent).

“Today, consumers have more access to food information than ever before,” observed Pat Conroy, Deloitte LLP’s vice chairman and US Consumer Products group leader. “Still, it’s clear that what they are getting is not enough. Consumers are spending more time checking labels and are often overwhelmed by a flood of contradictory nutrition ‘facts’. They seek clear, straightforward information they can understand so they can make more informed choices and better protect themselves and their families.”

The study also outlined opinions about a key issue in the ongoing global GM (Genetically Modified food) debate. It found that almost 80 per cent of those surveyed believe that meat from cloned animals should be labelled as such in food stores and 50 per cent of consumers surveyed claim meat from cloned animals should not be sold in the United States.

In Australia the GM debate is beginning to polarise opinion, and the issue of whether or not labels highlighting that a product contains GM ingredients should be required by law. The WA Government has been vocal in their disapproval of GM foods and are calling for labelling legislation. “GM labelling should apply if the food is an oil derived from a GM crop, a whole food, or if any ingredients derived from GM crops are present in the final product,” Agriculture and Food Minister Kim Chance suggested last month.