Consumers' views regarding health claims on two food packages

Eva Svederberg

    Research output: Book/ReportReport

    Abstract

    Use of nutrition claims and health claims in labelling of food products is frequent, not least on food products categorised as functional foods. Studies show frequent use of such information in consumers’ choice of food products, even if many consumers find it confusing and want it reinforced by other trusted sources of information. Studies also show consumers to have a low understanding of concepts used and statements made. The aim of the present study was to investigate how, when consumers are presented with nutrition claims and health claims on packaged food products, their thinking about such texts on food products is affected by various types of food-related experiences. An empirical study comprised a group of thirty Swedish consumers aged 25 to 64. The open and explorative form of data collection comprised individual semi-structured interviews, where the points of departure were nutrition claims and health claims found on the package of a margarine and a loaf of bread, both sold in Sweden. The analysis aimed at categorising how food-related experiences are involved in consumers' thinking about such statements. Participants who expressed special concern for their own and their families’ health situation, at present and in the long term, were found to be eager to find out the meaning of concepts and statements made, and many of them searched for more information on the packages. A lack of understanding and the credibility of concepts and expressions often caused suspiciousness of the product, which however in some cases was counterbalanced by confidence in manufacturers, retailers and/or the Swedish food legislation. Participants who expressed concern for their traditional eating habits tended to put up with their lack of understanding of concepts and statements on the packages, and rather expressed concern for palatability. To achieve fruitful written communication of food products' health-conducive properties on packaged food labels, there is a need to consider the importance many consumers attach to understand the meaning of concepts and expressions used, and the importance of credibility in certain expressions. For fruitful communication, there is also a need to meet consumers in relation to their varying food-related experiences.

    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationLund
    PublisherDepartment of Education, Lund University
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

    Publication series

    NamePedagogical reports
    No.21
    ISSN (Print)0347-8467

    Swedish Standard Keywords

    • Pedagogy (50301)

    Keywords

    • atlas.ti
    • consumers
    • contextual analysis
    • education
    • food products
    • health claims
    • nutrition claims

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