Desang diabetes magazine diabetes diet, traffic light food labelling, Nutri-Score food label

28

LIVING

Green, amber, red, really?

Recent research has shown that very few consumers

understand the current 'traffic light' system being used

front-of-pack on food items in the UK. People with

diabetes are likely to be keener label readers than

the average soul, but should things be better, easier?

Sue Marshall takes a look.

Since 2013, the UK has used

the 'traffic light' system

which uses red, amber

and green to signify low,

medium and high amounts of energy,

fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt

in a food product. However, recent

discussions and research has shown

that these are poorly understood by

the consumer, resulting in confusion

over the relative health benefits of

a product.

There is no perfect way of

simply communicating the relative

healthiness of a food product, but the

Nutri-Score is considered to be a big

step in the right direction. Morrisons

supermarket recently announced

that it will be using a Nutri-Score

inspired front-of-pack label on over

600 own-label products, to be rolled

out later in the year, based on similar

consumer insight.

First launched in France in 2017,

the Nutri-Score system grades

foods from A to E according to

their overall nutritional quality

and is currently used acrossseven7

European countries. Consumers

intuitively understand this label and

so it helps them navigate to healthier

choices. No system is perfect, but the

Nutri-Score is a major step forward

in helping the shopper navigate

products and cut through misleading

health claims on-pack.

Independence day

Then there is the question of

who gets to decide on the data that

goes on food labels. Some argue

that independent health symbols

on packaging are key to affordable

healthy diets. Research from Imperial

College Business School shows

that printing recognisable health

symbols on product packaging can

reverse misconceptions around the

healthiness of low-cost items, leading

to a sales boost for manufacturers as

well as fostering healthier purchasing

choices for budget shoppers.

Within the paper, Going Healthy:

How Product Characteristics

Influence the Sales Impact of Frontof-Pack

Health Symbols, published

in the Journal of the Academic

of Marketing Science, research

led by Dr Stijn Maesen, examined

the performance implications

of adding a health symbol to a

product's packaging.

With misperceptions among

consumers still commonplace

around the nutritional value of

low-cost items, as well as products

with a front-of-pack taste claim

and retailer-owned brands, Maesen

and his team found that adding a

recognisable, accredited health

symbol can overcome existing beliefs

and boost sales.

The researchers focused on the

use of the Choices health symbol,

present within the Dutch market

between 2011 and 2015. While later

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