South African consumer perception of five front-of-pack label formats
Front-of-pack food labels help consumers to make healthier food purchases and are thus an important tool for improving public health. Consumers’ label preferences directly influence their motivation regarding the use of front-of-pack labels. However, to date no consensus has been reached globally, or in South Africa, on which front-of-pack label format is the most effective at guiding healthier food choices. This study compared the perceptions of five front-of-pack labels formats among consumers in Nelson Mandela Bay.
In this cross-sectional exploratory study with 359 participants, an interviewer-administered survey was conducted at twelve randomly selected retail food locations. The perceptions of five front-of- pack label formats (Reference Intake, Multiple Traffic Light label, Nutri-Score, health endorsement logo and warning labels) were assessed during the survey procedure.
The health endorsement logo achieved the highest number of positive responses (n = 833), closely followed by the Nutri-Score (n = 813), while the Reference Intake received the highest number of negative responses (n = 437). Overall, both the health endorsement logo and Nutri-Score were positively perceived in terms of likeability and comprehensibility. The Multiple Traffic Light label was perceived to be trustworthy (38.7%, n = 139) and useful in terms of providing the necessary nutritional information (39.4%, n = 141). Participants identified the Reference Intake format as being difficult to understand (41.5%, n = 149). Overall, the results of this study point to participants preferring evaluative front-of-pack labels that make use of interpretative colours, symbols and text.