Department of Management

A review of European research on consumer response to nutrition information on food labels

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperReviewResearch

  • Department of Marketing and Statistics
  • MAPP - Centre for Research on Customer Relations in the Food Sector
The aim of this study was to review research conducted in 2003-2006 in the EU-15 countries on how consumers perceive, understand, like and use nutrition information on food labels. Based on a search of databases on academic publications, Google-based search, and enquiries directed to a range of food retailers, food companies, consumer associations and government agencies, a total of 58 studies were identified. These studies were summarised using a standard format guided by a model of consumer information processing, and these summaries were subsequently processed using the MAXqda software in order to identify key findings and common themes across the studies. The studies show widespread consumer interest in nutrition information on food packages, though this interest varies across situations and products. Consumers like the idea of simplified front of pack information but differ in their liking for the various formats. Differences can be related to conflicting preferences for ease of use, being fully informed and not being pressurised into behaving in a particular way. Most consumers understand the most common signposting formats in the sense that they themselves believe that they understand them and they can replay key information presented to them in an experimental situation. There is, however, virtually no insight into how labelling information is, or will be, used in a real-world shopping situation, and how it will affect consumers' dietary patterns. Results are largely in line with an earlier review by Cowburn and Stockley (Public Health Nutr 8:21-28, 2005), covering research up to 2002, but provide new insights into consumer liking and understanding of simplified front of pack signposting formats. There is an urgent need for more research studying consumer use of nutritional information on food labels in a real-world setting.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Public Health: From Theory to Practice
Pages (from-to)385-399
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2007

    Research areas

  • MAPP, Nutrition information, Food labels, Consumer research, Signposting

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