Sixty Percent of Consumers Worldwide Are Confused by Food Labels

Nielsen Healthy Eating Report

Nielsen recently surveyed over 25,000 people around the globe to learn about healthy eating trends. The marketing research firm published a report earlier this week,with some interesting findings.

The most interesting for us is how confused people are by nutrition labels, with 6 out of 10 people saying they don’t always understand the nutritional pros and cons of a product. The percentage varies greatly by region though: In Asia, only 30-40% said they understand labels, while in the US, 58% of respondents claim to understand the labeling.

In all regions, consumers were wary of “fuzzy” claims such as “Fresh”, “All Natural”, “Made with Real Fruit”, and “Heart Healthy”.

In the US, the top 5 foods purchased for their health benefits are:

  1. Products boasting whole grain / high fiber
  2. Low Cholesterol fats
  3. Bread fortified with Calcium (seems strange to us)
  4. Fortified fruit juice
  5. Yogurt with probiotics

Nielsen’s report concludes with a call to action to the food industry [highlights by Fooducate]:

Consumers around the world have healthy eating on their minds and consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketers have an opportunity to help. Consumer-friendly nutritional labeling can be a powerful marketing tool as consumers are hungry for easy-to- understand information. Clearly there is a need and an opportunity for more education to help reduce the skepticism that is apparent around all parts of the globe. And there is a need to offer tasty and healthful options to satisfy both the mind and body. 

We agree that there is a need to have healthful options offered to us consumers, and obviously the food industry is responding to market pressures by offering reduced sugar, reduced harmful ingredient products. Understandably, marketers sell more packaged foods. Herein lies the problem – consumers wishing for healthier lifestyles need to move away from packaged, processed food products and get back to the basics – preparing fresh meals at home with basic ingredients.

What to do at the supermarket:

Nielsen urging manufacturers to prepare consumer friendly messaging on packages. We urge you to be friends with only two things on the package – the nutrition label and the ingredient list. Only they tell the full story of what’s really inside that box of crackers and jar of spaghetti sauce you’re about to buy.

(h/t to L.A.)



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