The IGD’s Industry Nutrition Strategy Group started looking at how portion sizes are determined in 2008. It has reviewed portion advice drawn up by industry, governments and NGO, and conducted consumer research undertaken in focus groups and through a quantitative survey of 1,067 adults.
In July IGD published a report on consumer understanding of portion size information, which showed up distrust of industry defined portion sizes. The findings were said to highlight the need for food companies to communicate better on how they come up with their portion sizes.
The new voluntary guidelines are the next phase in the project, and aim to point food businesses towards language and tools that are practical and relevant for consumers. Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD, said the guidelines were developed bearing in mind what consumers said would be helpful.
The key points for grocery products are that:
- A portion of serving size be provided;
- The label indicates how the product is intended to be used;
- Language used in the nutrition information is the same on the front and the back;
- Language used in marketing text is consistent with that on the pack;
- Language is consistent with same brand products in the category
- Additional words or descriptions be used to reinforce portion size messages;
- Multiserve packs clearly show how many servings there are in the pack.
The full guidelines are available here. http://www.igd.com/portionsizecommunication
The issue of portion sizes has come under the spotlight as healthier eating and anti obesity strategies are looking to help people rebalance energy intake and expenditure. Some nutritional labelling schemes, such as guidance daily amounts (GDAs) are based on portion size.
A new regulation on nutrition labelling is currently being worked out by the European Commission.
While the IGD says the guidelines should be compatible new regulations on food labelling, they are not intended to give a method for determining portion sizes or to tell industry what portion sizes should be.
Chair of the strategy group Claire Hughes said the industry generally does already provide portion size per portion on a voluntary basis, but the research showed that there were inconsistencies in how it was presented.
“The IGD guidelines are designed around what works best for the consumer,” she said. “This is invaluable for industry.”
The industry nutrition strategy group is made up of 30 nutritionists who work for retailers, manufacturers and food organisations.