Health Sells – Especially On Product Packaging
“Research suggests that consumers believe Front-of-Package claims and ignore the nutrition or ingredients panels”, says Marion Nestle PhD, JAMA journal, 2010.
The front of the food package has the power to make the buying decisions. For most companies, claims on products are a “way of elbowing ahead of the competitors”.
There’s always a battle to outdo the competitions advertising prowess and make the product stand out above all others. As far as products go, the food businesses know the public wants healthy options and are willing to pay for them.
The average number of benefits listed on a product on most successful new foods and beverages has increased almost 50% in the past 10 years.
Just the appearance of healthy ingredients seems to sell.
Most consumers will buy food for one or two specific healthy ingredients. For example, acai berries or whole grains as one of the big “new stars” listed on the superfood category in the news.
The perception that this is an overall healthy product per claims on the package influences how consumers perceive food and how much they of it they will eat.
Believe it or not the colors on packaging make a large difference. Jonathan Schuldt, PhD, at Cornell’s Department of Commerce, studied health claims and food labeling, noticed an increase
in the number of health related headlines on the front of product labels. For instance, Green can mean many things; natural, environment, sustainable, organic, healthy and it means â€˜go’! If you compare the product packaging the colors red or white do not motivate consumers like green!Â They are swayed by green, since it is a healthy looking label.
Studies have even found that how you perceive a product when you are eating it, like an â€˜indulgent’ mindset or a â€˜sensible’ mindset; can have as big an effect on your appetite about what you are actually consuming.
Many companies need to toe a fine line between claims and real nutrient content of their products.Â If you are not well versed in FDA food labeling regulations; it can be hard to distinguish the various types of health claims on products. Also, FDA regulations can change quite often and is hard to keep up with the new requirements.
Any health claims, linked to a disease, has to be preapproved by the FDA; with strong scientific evidence and reliable studies.
Nutrient content tells how much of a particular nutrient is contained in the food; low, reduced or high. This is less regulated and may be used without an FDA review.
Function or structure describes the effect a nutrient may have on the body but making no reference to disease. These are the least regulated claims; manufacturers can self- police to ensure these are not misleading. They should have some research to support their claims in the event that the FDA asks for evidence.
Consumers prefer lighter, more, sexy- sounding claims because they think it sounds more positive. Even so, the claims on these labels may not have been accurate. Then, in 2010 the FDA swooped in and said they were to develop a standardized front of package label. Before they designed it, the Grocery Manufacturers Association issued its own ruling and implemented their own label in 2011; called Facts Up Front.
To increase business, a company’s labels give them power in packaging. They can control how we think about the food inside, if it is healthy or not, how tasty or how much we will eat. Today health sells, and packages are very alluring.
About the Author:
Cindy Burrows, B.S., M.T., Herbalist, is a Natural Health Consultant helping individuals start health programs to improve their life, wellness and happiness. Cindy is a speaker, writer and entrepreneur of several businesses. Contact her at [email protected]