Tate & Lyle – food & drink labels are prime real estate

Shaun Weston25 Aug 2009

Consumers' secrets are out: when shopping for themselves and their loved ones, they're swayed by what's prominently displayed on food labels.

As US consumers actively embrace healthier lifestyles, Tate & Lyle found that 55% of them display a laser-like focus on nutrition facts and ingredient labels.

"As a leading ingredient company in the US, Tate & Lyle is committed to understanding consumers' needs as they start and maintain healthy lifestyles," says David Lewis, business manager, Promitor Dietary Fiber, Tate & Lyle. "With consumers pressed for time, food labels quickly communicate nutrition information to help them choose products that support their healthy intentions."

8 approaches to label reading

From blogs and online forums to news reports and diet trends, today's time-crunched consumers are inundated with messages about healthy dining from multiple sources. Consumers shared eight approaches to label reading with Tate & Lyle that help them determine which food and beverage items make the final cut.

  1. Is it a new product? Many consumers are brand loyal and will scrutinise the labels of new products to determine if trial is necessary.
  2. Who is it for? Adult consumers aren't the only ones trending more towards healthier eating. Parents are exhibiting increased interest in reading labels if food and beverages are for their children.
  3. Everyday or indulgent item? Consumers are more diligent about reading packages of everyday staples. They also report having an interest in healthy indulgence.
  4. Current media reports. Consumers are more inclined to read labels if they read or watch diet and nutrition feature stories by key media influencers such as Oprah Winfrey and Dr Oz.
  5. Influence of a prior diet programme. Former dieters have learned to look for carbs and fibre from diets such as Atkins and Weight Watchers.
  6. Front package claims. When specific health claims are made on the front of packages, consumers tend to scrutinise the back and side panels of packages for additional information.
  7. On a diet. Consumers focus on the most important aspects of the package that are dictated by the diet they're currently following.
  8. In a hurry. Consumers, especially parents, are time-crunched and tend to read labels quickly to stay on schedule.

Ingredients matter

Many times, consumer education starts and ends with packaging, says Lisa Sanders PhD, RD, nutrition scientist, Tate & Lyle. With thousands of consumer brands flooding supermarket shelves, the majority of consumers report two major reasons for reading labels.

"Consumers want to make healthy choices and more than 60% of them rely on food and beverage labels to do this," Dr Sanders explains. "Research also shows that 50% of consumers look to labels when they're purposely trying to add specific nutrients, like fibre, to their diets."

When reading labels, the Nutrition Facts Panel is one of the top areas consumers read. Tate & Lyle found that 46% review the Nutrition Facts Panel to find out about fibre content.

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation found that 43% of consumers look to product labels for statements about nutrition benefits. Tate & Lyle's research reveals that 42% of consumers actively shop for foods and drinks that clearly indicate fibre on the package.

It's a bonus if product labels tout an 'excellent source of fibre' statement on the front of the package. Consumers agree this statement is appealing to them across many product categories:

  • More than 60% (63%) of consumers find an 'excellent source of fibre' on dairy products appealing.
  • Seven in 10 (70%) of consumers believe cereals with an 'excellent source of fibre' label claim is appealing.
  • More than 50% (54%) of consumers say drink products with 'excellent source of fibre' is appealing.
  • Nearly six in 10 (59%) of consumers say bread products with 'excellent source of fibre' is appealing.

Source: Tate & Lyle