Consumers checking nutrition information more often

by Staff
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SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — Almost two-thirds (65%) of consumer said they notice nutritional information on food packaging more often now than two years ago, according to a global on-line survey by The Nielsen Co.

"As obesity rates continue to rise globally and with lifestyle-related heart disease the No. 1 killer worldwide today, there is increasing pressure on the food industry to play a greater role in educating consumers about what they’re eating," said Deepak Varma, senior vice-president, Nielsen Customized Research. "Given that so many consumers are taking time to read nutrition labels, there is also a marketing opportunity for food manufacturers to provide consumer-friendly information on labels that may entice shoppers to switch brands at the point of purchase."

Nielsen also found while two-thirds of U.S. consumers said they "mostly" understand the nutritional information on food packaging, only 44% of global consumers said they do.

In addition, 25% of U.S. shoppers scan food labels checking for nutrition information while trying to lose weight, but only 15% of global consumers do the same. More than half of U.S. consumers said they always check the fat content on nutrition labels while nearly half said they check food labeling for calories and trans fat.

"The relationship between consumers and nutritional information and labeling provides unmistakable insight into health and diet concerns," Mr. Varma said. "Without question, nutritional labeling can be a powerful marketing tool for savvy food manufacturers. For example, food marketers can make relatively low investments in pack and labeling changes compared to advertising and promotions and drive significant sales."

While only 21% of U.S. consumers always check the nutritional information on food packaging, 42% said they check when thinking of buying a product for the first time. Consistent with the global average, 8% of U.S. consumers said they never check the nutrition information, and sixty-seven per cent said they understand the difference between saturated and unsaturated fat. Only 24% of U.S. consumers check food labels for preservatives while 42% of global consumers do the same, Nielsen said.

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