Department of Management

Product reformulation in the context of nutritional warning labels: Exploration of consumer preferences towards food concepts in three food categories

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  • Gastón Ares, Universidad de la República, Uruguay
  • Jessica Aschemann-Witzel
  • María Rosa Curutchet, Instituto Nacional de Alimentación, Uruguay
  • Lucía Antúnez, Universidad de la República, Uruguay
  • Leandro Machín, Universidad de la República, Uruguay
  • Leticia Vidal, Universidad de la República, Uruguay
  • Ana Giménez, Universidad de la República, Uruguay

The reformulation of the food products available in the marketplace to improve their nutritional quality has been identified as one of the most cost-effective policies for controlling the global obesity pandemic. Front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition labelling is one of the strategies that has been suggested to encourage the food industry to reformulate their products. However, the extent to which certain FOP labels can encourage product reformulation is dependent on consumer reaction. The aim of the present work was to assess consumers' perception towards product reformulation in the context of the implementation of nutritional warnings, an interpretive FOP nutrition labelling scheme. Three product categories were selected as target products: bread, cream cheese and yogurt, each associated with high content of one target nutrient. For each category, six packages were designed using a 3 × 2 experimental design with the following variables: product version (regular, nutrient-reduced and nutrient-free) and brand (market leader and non-market leader). A total 306 Uruguayan participants completed a choice experiment with 18 choice sets. Reformulated products without nutritional warnings were preferred by participants compared to regular products with nutritional warnings. No apparent preference for products reformulated into nutrient-reduced or nutrient-free product versions was found, although differences depended on the product category and the specific reformulation strategy. Preference for reformulated products without nutritional warnings was more pronounced for non-market leaders. Results from the present work suggest that reformulation of foods in the context of the implementation of nutritional warnings holds potential to encourage consumers to make more healthful food choices and to cause a reduction of their intake of nutrients associated with non-communicable diseases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFood Research International
Pages (from-to)669-674
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Conjoint analysis, Consumer research, product reformulation, Front-of-package, Nutrition information

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