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Positive Front-of-Pack Logos May Drive Purchasing Decisions

October 18th, 2017

New Research Sheds Light on Logo Use for Making Healthier Choices at the Supermarket

Buenos Aires, 18 October 2017 - Positive logos provide valuable information to consumers, according to new research. In The Netherlands, the average consumer bought more products displaying the Choices logo in the five product groups investigated. These preliminary results were presented today by Dr Sinne Smed (University of Copenhagen) at the 2017 International Congress of Nutrition in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The introduction of positive logos is increasing around the world as a way to help consumers find healthier products at a glance, within each food category. Such logos are based on product group specific criteria for levels of salt, sugar, saturated fat, energy and dietary fibre. Previous data from Scandinavia, The Netherlands and Singapore showed that these positive logos are well known and highly appreciated by consumers.

The research by Dr Smed is based on observed purchase data from representative consumer panels in the Netherlands and Denmark, that register their food purchases. Dr Smed and her team compared the data before and after the launch of the Keyhole logo in Denmark in 2009 and the Choices logo (“Ik Kies Bewust”) in The Netherlands in 2006 and found that consumers are willing to pay more for products displaying the logos. Hence, the logos provide valuable information to the consumers.

Furthermore, preliminary results based on the Dutch dataset show that consumers in the Netherlands respond positively to this guidance and increase their purchases of products with the Choices logo. The latter study focused on day-to-day product groups such as milk and yoghurt as well as less frequently bought products, such as oils & fats, cereals and sauces. The logo had the highest effect in product groups containing a mix of healthy and unhealthy products, i.e. in product groups where the logo can be used as guidance for a healthier choice. For healthy product groups, e.g. oatmeal or buttermilk, the logo had no significant effect. Likewise for product groups in which for example a high fat content determines the functionality of the product, such as margarine. The studies show no systematic patterns in consumer types that use the logos as a basis for their choice.

According to Sinne Smed, “Positive logos such as Keyhole or Choices can be a valuable tool to guide consumers towards a healthier diet.”

Dr Smed is an associate professor at the Department of Food and Resource Economics of the University of Copenhagen. This study was part of the EU funded CLYMBOL research project, a 4-year study of consumer understanding of claims and symbols with scientific partners from Denmark, The Netherlands and seven other European countries. These preliminary research findings are presented at the International Congress on Nutrition, 18 October in Buenos Aires. The final results will be submitted for peer-reviewed publication.

CLYMBOL Research Reveals Need for More Data on Effect of FOP Logos on Purchasing Behavior

October 5th, 2017

A recent study led by Associate Professor Sinne Smed in the Department of Food and Research Economics at the University of Copenhagen and published in the British Food Journal shed some light on how consumers who purchase products with nutrition symbols differ from other consumers with respect to socio-demographic characteristics. Using a representative panel of households in Denmark and the Netherlands, researchers examined purchasing habits across six product types, matching purchaser data with product labelling status.

Results showed that households with children are less likely to purchase labelled products, but urban dwellers were more likely to purchase them. In Denmark, there is a positive correlation between education level and logo purchases and in the Netherlands, there is a positive correlation with income. However, researchers conclude there is little evidence that these characteristics offer a clear explanation of purchasing behaviour and urge more studies on the effect of FOP logos on actual product choices.

Seminar on Product Reformulation and Consumer Behaviour

October 4th, 2017

On 17 October Wageningen University & Research hosts an inspiring free seminar (in Dutch) on new ways to healthy eating patterns: “Nieuwe wegen naar gezonde voeding”. Top representatives of science, industry and government will share and discuss the latest insights on product reformulation and eating habits in the Netherlands. What is the best way to improve eating patterns in the Netherlands. Prof. Kees de Graaaf, chairman of the Dutch Scientific Committee and member of the European Scientific Committee, will evaluate the results of ten years of the Choices program in The Netherlands. Click here for further details and registration.

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