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Sciensano: "Nutri-Score on store shelves is not enough to get consumers to regularly choose healthy food products" |  the interior

Sciensano: “Nutri-Score on store shelves is not enough to get consumers to regularly choose healthy food products” | the interior

Nutri-Score listings of food products on shelf labels on supermarket shelves is not enough to make consumers regularly choose healthy food products. This is according to a recent study by Sciensano.

Nutri-Score shows how healthy a food is based on the amount of calories, sugars, saturated fat, salt, protein, fiber, fruits, vegetables and nuts it contains. Consumers can then easily compare scores of products within the same food category.

To see the effect of mentioning Nutri-Score on shelf labels, Sciensano looked at the purchasing behavior of customers at a large Belgian supermarket chain, which has been offering this for all products since May 2019, not just for its own brands and products where the Nutri-Score label is already present. on the packaging.


The study indicated mixed effects. “Overall, we found beneficial effects for products containing Nutri-Score B and C and unfavorable effects for products containing Nutri-Score D,” says Stefanie Vandevijvere, a scientist at Sciensano. “The analysis for each food category provides a much clearer picture. In about a third of the surveyed categories (together they represent 29% of all sales), we saw that customers either buy Nutri-Score A or B products more often or less often. with Nutri-Score D or E. Particularly within the vegetable, fruit, dairy, and dessert categories.”

© Joel Hollertz

“In other food categories (which together made up 24% of all sales), we noticed a shift toward less healthy products,” she continues. This shift was most evident in the baking and bakery category. We did not find statistically significant effects in the other food categories.”

less obvious

According to Sciensano, the effects are less clear than expected based on pilot studies in other countries with different types of shelf labels. It appears that “we see some possible explanations for that”. Starting with the color of the shelf labels. For example, Nutri-Score was indicated in black and white, which is less conspicuous than the color label. A second possible explanation is that this was a natural experiment and not an isolated study design where shelf labels were the only way of indicating Nutri-score or promotion. There have also been other Nutri-Score initiatives in stores, so the impact may be somewhat less,” Vandevijvere continues.

In any case, the study shows that a Nutri-Score listing on shelf labels alone is not enough to convincingly influence consumer buying behavior. “Obviously more is needed.”

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