Portion sizes often ignored by consumers

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 27th July 2009

Portion sizes recommended on food packaging are often used as no more than a guide by consumers who purchase more to ensure they have enough, according to a new report from IGD research.

The IGD report discovered that consumers don’t trust the portion size information, although they do like it and use it as a guide when purchasing products. Thirty six per cent of respondents claimed they ignored portion size information on the pack and 38 per cent admitted they will eat what they want regardless of what it says on the label.

Almost half (48%) of respondents indicated that experience dictates how much they eat.

The portion size concept has taken off in recent years as concerns about obesity have soared. It has also led to the creation of new nutritional labelling schemes, which may need to be better communicated, the research implies.

“We have to find a way for manufacturers to communicate: ‘We haven’t decided based on some nonsense. It is a real, well judged recommendation’,” Rachel Hackett, author of the report, told FoodNavigator.com. “There was not a clear preference for the language used, however a key point is that language should be consistent on the pack.”

Ms Hackett added that avoidance of terms like “typical” or “suggested servicing” was wise as they only pose questions for the consumer.

As a result of the study, IGD is creating new guidelines for food manufacturers that will represent best practice for communicating the benefits and science of portion sizes.