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U.S. consumers losing interest in food labels: NPD


January 26, 2011
By Bakers Journal

January 26, 2011, Chicago – Sixteen years after Nutrition Facts labels appeared on the nearly every food and beverage in stores, interest in reading the labels has waned among U.S. households, according to market research by The NPD Group.

The labels include information about serving sizes, calories, and nutrients, including: total fat, saturated fat and trans fat; cholesterol; sodium; total carbohydrates; dietary fibre; sugars; protein; vitamins A and C; calcium; and iron.

Through its National Eating Trends service, NPD tracks consumers’ level of agreement with the statement “I frequently check labels to determine whether the foods I buy contain anything I’m trying to avoid.”

In 1990, after the legislation introducing the Nutrition Facts labels passed, 65 per cent of consumers completely or mostly agreed with the statement. That decreased to 60 per cent in 1994, shortly before the labels began appearing on food packaging, and rose to 64 per cent in 1995, after the labels had become commonplace. Since then, consumer agreement has ranged from a high of 61 per cent to a low of 50 per cent.

In 2010, a total of 52 per cent agreed that they frequently check labels.

“If there is one clear message that consumers are trying to send, it’s that the label has grown tired and uninteresting,” said Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst at NPD and author of Eating Patterns in America. “All good marketers want to keep their packaging contemporary, and that should include the nutrition facts information.”

NPD also tracks what consumers usually look for when they read the Nutrition Facts label. According to the firm’s Dieting Monitor, the top five items consumers look for are calories, total fat, sugar, sodium and calories from fat.