Inferring Product Healthfulness from Nutrition Labelling. The Influence of Reference Points

Appetite, 72 (2014) 138–149

12 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2015

See all articles by Erica van Herpen

Erica van Herpen

Wageningen University

Sophie Hieke

European Food Information Council

Hans Van Trijp

Independent

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

Despite considerable research on nutrition labelling, it has proven difficult to find a front-of-pack label which is informative about product healthfulness across various situations. This study examines the ability of different types of nutrition labelling schemes (multiple traffic light label, nutrition table, GDA, logo) to communicate product healthfulness (a) across different product categories, (b) between options from the same product category, and (c) when viewed in isolation and in comparison with another product. Results of two experiments in Germany and The Netherlands show that a labelling scheme with reference point information at the nutrient level (e.g., the traffic light label) can achieve all three objectives. Although other types of labelling schemes are also capable of communicating healthfulness, labelling schemes lacking reference point information (e.g., nutrition tables) are less effective when no comparison product is available, and labelling schemes based on overall product healthfulness within the category (e.g., logos) can diminish consumers’ ability to differentiate between categories, leading to a potential misinterpretation of product healthfulness. None of the labels affected food preferences.

Suggested Citation

van Herpen, Erica and Hieke, Sophie and Trijp, Hans Van, Inferring Product Healthfulness from Nutrition Labelling. The Influence of Reference Points (2014). Appetite, 72 (2014) 138–149, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2585436

Erica Van Herpen (Contact Author)

Wageningen University ( email )

Hollandseweg 1
Wageningen, 6706KN
Netherlands

Sophie Hieke

European Food Information Council ( email )

Rue des Deux Eglises 14
Belgium, 1000
Belgium

Hans Van Trijp

Independent ( email )

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