Department of Management

Setting Policy Priorities for Front-of-Pack Health Claims and Symbols in the European Union: Expert Consensus Built by Using a Delphi Method

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  • Yung Hung , Ghent University, Belgium
  • Sophie Hieke, European Food Information Council, Belgium
  • Klaus G Grunert
  • Wim Verbeke, Ghent University, Belgium

Despite the fact that front-of-pack nutrition labels such as health claims and symbols have received growing attention in consumer behavior research, comprehensive conclusions could not yet be drawn to develop concrete policy actions, owing to the complexity of the subject and a constantly changing market environment. In this study, evidence-based policy recommendations and communication guidelines have been derived from the findings of the EU FP7 project CLYMBOL (“Role of health-related CLaims and sYMBOLs in consumer behavior”, Grant Agreement 311963), and have been evaluated and prioritized by European stakeholders using a three-round Delphi method. A moderate level of consensus was achieved and results suggest that policy priority should focus on ways to improve consumer motivation and interest in healthy eating. Consumers’ interest in healthy eating could be increased by adopting appropriate communication strategies such as using innovative ways to communicate the importance of healthy eating, which may aim to change the possible negative association between healthiness and tastiness. The highest-rated finding was related to consumers’ favorable attitude towards health claims with shorter and less complex messages and health symbols with a visible endorsement. Meanwhile, there was a clear consensus that health claims need to be scientifically substantiated and credible but phrased without using overly complex scientific wordings, in order to be meaningful for consumers. Furthermore, stakeholders from academia and industry believe that consumer awareness about existing health claims should be increased. The identified policy recommendations and communication guidelines stem from recent empirical evidence and provide useful insights that guide future policy development aligning consumer protection issues as well as public health and food marketing communication interests.

Original languageEnglish
Article number403
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Communication, Consumer behavior, Delphi method, Health claims, Health symbols, Nutrition label, Public health policy

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