Product labelling – a critical ingredient

Posted by Oliver Koll on Nov 18, 2019

A large number of shoppers base their choices on an intensive examination of food labels, often using signals regarding ingredients and manufacturing to help their decision-making process. In our #Who Cares Who Does study, we investigate which food information is of primary interest to shoppers worldwide.

  • Nutrition and origin are of primary interest – for example sugar (46%), country of origin (46%), fat (45%) and calories (40%). This information provides an indication of healthiness, regionality and the potential ecological footprint of a product.
  • Shoppers in Eastern Europe are most concerned regarding country-of-origin information (70%), whereas Asian shoppers are more indifferent about where a product comes from.
  • Facts on sustainable ingredients and production processes lag behind: For example, only 21% of all shoppers look at whether palm oil is an ingredient. Also, topics such as recycled pack material (12%), animal welfare (12%) or fairtrade (12%) rank relatively low.
  • However, fairtrade and animal welfare are more important for shoppers from Western Europe (21%).
  • Finally, some country spotlights: 75% of all shoppers from Chile mention sugar as an important aspect they look at (a signal that the stop signs required on packs with high sugar content have raised awareness), whereas only 30% of Indonesians check for sugar content. Country of origin information ranks most prominently in Slovakia (83%), and quite low in Brazil (12%).

The importance and specific type (nutrition vs. sustainability) of product information differs by region but shoppers everywhere actively seek detailed food labelling to decide whether to purchase a certain product or not. This is a behavior brands need to be aware of—even a strong brand name may not compensate for a “wrong” ingredient or questionable production method anymore.