Researchers in Illinois State University, North Carolina State University, University of South Carolina, and University of Maryland published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing that examines the impact of moving food packaging nutrition labels, typically placed on the back of product bundles, to the front.
The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing, is titled “Competitive Effects of Front-of-Package Nutrition Labeling Adoption on Nutritional Quality: Evidence from Facts Up Front Style Labels” and is authored by Joon Ho Lim, Rishika Rishika, Ramkumar Janakiraman, and P.K. Kannan.
Can altering food packaging nutrition labels improve product nutrition quality? Although this shift could be simple, there is a whole lot at stake.
Diet-related chronic ailments impose an increasing burden on the United States economy by raising costs of health care and widening diet-related health disparities. Since the 1970s, the American diet has changed considerably towards foods higher in calories and lower in nutritional quality. Childhood and adolescent obesity rates also have skyrocketed in the past 30 years using one in five school aged kids considered obese. To combat this disconcerting fashion, public policy makers, food manufacturers, and grocery retailers have made efforts over time to design nutrition labels which can educate consumers about the nutritional value of the foods they purchase and assist consumers make healthier choices. The World Health Organization (WHO) also considers food packaging nutrition labels for an integral policy option for encouraging healthy diets.
One such initiative undertaken by is the food packaging nutrition labels Front-of-Package (FOP) nutrition tag. FOP nourishment labels are willingly adopted by food makers and supply nutrient information on the front of food packaging in a clear, simple, and easy-to-read format. The FOP labels present the key information listed on the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP; exhibited on the back or side of food bundles ) more concisely and frequently consist of calorie content and the quantities of key nutrients to restrict (e.g., saturated fat, sugar, and sodium per serving). In an innovative study, our research team assessed the impact of the introduction of a FOP nutrition tag in a product category on the nutrient quality of food products in the group.
To begin with, the adoption of food packaging nutrition labels FOP nutrition labeling at a product class results in a substantial improvement in the nutritional quality of food products in that category. Secondly, the effect of FOP is more powerful for superior (high-priced) brands and brands using a thinner product line thickness. Third, the FOP adoption effect is stronger for unhealthy categories and groups with a higher competitive intensity. Fourth, manufacturers raise the nutrient quality of products by reducing the calorie content and limiting nutrients such as sodium, sugar, and saturated fat.
Lim explains that “This implies that policy makers, in partnership with food manufacturers and retailers, should encourage adoption of voluntary, standardized, and transparent labeling programs and consider options for broadening the information presented in FOP labels. We believe that policy makers should also invest in educational campaigns that inform consumers about the value of FOP labels and that would further incentivize food manufacturers to offer nutritionally better products.”
For food manufacturers, the outcomes imply that they must devote substantial resources to product innovation to remain competitive. Specifically, producers in unhealthy and more competitive categories can be more strategic and invest in innovation so they are ready to provide improved products following food packaging nutrition labels FOP adoption. Rishika adds that “Food retailers should partner with manufacturers and give them incentives to adopt FOP because this can lead to better-quality products for their consumers and help build a positive brand image. Retailers can also promote products with FOP labels, especially in more competitive and unhealthy product categories, which can spur manufacturers toward more innovation and lead to an increase in the nutritional quality of foods over time.”
The researchers encourage retailers to invest in measures that help monitor and track sales of goods with FOP labels and provide this feedback to their own makers regularly to speed up the competitive effect of food packaging nutrition labels FOP labels. For customers, the study finds that the brands that embraced FOP tagging offer nutritionally superior products than those which didn’t adopt the tagging. This outcome is very beneficial for time-starved consumers seeking to purchase comparatively healthier products.
Related Journal Article: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0022242920942563