Consumers Look for Simple Nutrition Labels

Today’s consumer is more-likely than ever to seek out and purchase healthy foods. However, complicated nutrition labels may be making their search more difficult. In fact, a 2012 Nielsen study found that 59% of grocery shoppers find it difficult to understand the nutritional facts on product packaging.

Many producers have attempted to solve this problem with catch phrases such as "low fat" or "sugar free." But the same Nielsen study found that over two thirds of consumers see these  as untrustworthy.

The better nutrition label

Some grocery chains have begun implementing point-of-sale nutritional scoring systems such as NuVal to facilitate healthier purchasing decisions. Nutritional scoring systems take all of the information listed in a product’s nutritional label (fat, sodium, carbs, calories, etc.), and score the product on an easy-to-understand scale. NuVal scores products on a scale from 1-100, with higher scores given to healthier products. It was developed by a team of experts from the nutrition, public-health, and medical communities.

A study examining shopper behavior in one grocery chain that adopted the NuVal system found that the simpler nutrition scoring system boosted shoppers’ healthy choices by over 20%. Interestingly, the study also found that shoppers chose products with higher nutritional scores, regardless of the price. In fact, price sensitivity in the grocery chain decreased by 19%- while overall sales increased.

What does this information tell us for the manufacturers of food products?

Shoppers are looking for simple labels and easy-to-understand information that make their decisions easier. Consumers desire to make healthier choices, but do not have the time and energy to read each product’s label before making a decision. Food manufacturers can make the decision process easier by making a few simple changes like avoiding ambiguous and undefined terms on their labels, or explaining why unfamiliar ingredients are added to their products.