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KNOWLEDGE FOR POLICY

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Publication | 13 September 2022

Front-of-pack nutrition labelling schemes - An update of the evidence

Abstract

This addendum of the JRC Science for Policy report “Front-of-pack nutrition labelling schemes: a comprehensive review” provides an update of the former publication regarding the effects of front-of-pack nutrition labelling (FOPNL) schemes on consumers' understanding, food purchases, diet and health, as well as food reformulation. This addendum will further inform the Commission’s proposal for harmonised mandatory FOPNL announced in the Farm to Fork Strategy. In addition to an update and extension of the previous report with recent literature (published 05/2018-01/2021), the current report additionally addresses the effects of different labelling aspects (e.g. use of reference quantities, voluntary vs. mandatory implementation, combination of front-of-pack nutrition labels and claims on consumer understanding and consumer behaviour.

Key findings

The conclusions drawn on the basis of the reviewed literature are organised by the following sections included in the report: consumer attention; consumer preferences and acceptance; consumer understanding; food purchasing; impacts on different socio-economic group; implementation effects of different labelling aspects; diet and health; and food reformulation and innovation.

The JRC study on front-of-pack nutrition labelling showed that:

  • Consumers generally value front-of-pack nutrition labels as a quick and easy way to acquire nutrition information when making purchase decisions.

  • Less complex labels require less attention and time for consumers to be processed. 

  • In general, consumers, including consumers with lower income, appear to prefer simple, colourful and evaluative summary front-of-pack labels, which are more easily understood, than more complex, non-evaluative, monochrome labels.

  • Front-of-pack nutrition labels can guide consumers towards healthier diets.

  • Front-of-pack nutrition labelling seems to provide incentives to food businesses to improve the nutritional quality of their products, such as by reducing added salt or sugars.