Progress towards gaining shoppers views on labelling
shoppers' views on front-of-pack nutritional labelling schemes,
which could drive a strategy that suits both consumer and industry
needs and help quell disagreements.
The best approach to labelling nutritional information has proved a bone of contention between regulators, industry and retailers. The two main approaches are the Food Standards Agency's traffic light labelling scheme, and the CIAA's voluntary GDA (guidance daily amount scheme). The UK's Food Standards Agency has set up an independent Project Management Panel to oversee the research, which will assess how traffic lights, monochrome GDAs and traffic light GDAs each contribute to healthier food choices. The specific objectives are to determine whether individual front of pack approaches enable consumers to correctly interpret key nutrient levels; and how consumers actually use the front of lack labels, both in a retail environment and when they get the products home. A shortlist of companies that will be invited to tender to conduct the research has been drawn up, following expressions of interest solicited earlier this year. PMP chair and chief government social researcher Sue Duncan said that a robust base of independent evidence is key to a solution that meets both industry and consumer needs. In addition to and in advance of the research, the PMP commissioned a small piece of work to gain a snapshot of consumer opinion, involving several small focus groups. It will also look at worldwide research on the subject dating back over the last ten years. Last week UK retailer ASDA announced that it is combining both approaches for the labels of its own-label products. It said a consumer survey had shown shoppers to appreciate the bright colours of the traffic light scheme, whilst the more detailed GDA information was useful to those seeking more in depth info on which to base their purchasing decisions. Unlike the ASDA survey, however, which the retailer said also included shoppers at rival Tesco amongst respondents, the PMP panel was set up to ensure that the FSA-commissioned study is independent.