While shoppers claim to prefer healthy options, their shopping baskets often tell a different story, with nutritional information less of a factor in purchasing decisions than customer research suggests, said the society.
The findings of a six-week labelling trial by the group showed that customers rated pack and on-shelf labelling as helpful. Almost two thirds (62%) of shoppers claimed to take some care to seek out healthy alternatives.
Nearly half (45%) said the majority of the food they bought was a healthy alternative.
However, when shoppers were questioned about products they had bought on a specific trip to
a Co-operative Group store, three quarters admitted labelling had not necessarily influenced their purchase. Less than a third said they had bought items specifically because of their nutritional content or health benefits, while half admitted neither was a major part of their purchasing decision.
The group head of brand and technical, David Croft, said: “Our suspicion was that there was some over-claiming by consumers which did not always carry through to their buying. However, the research does show that some people are buying on a nutritional basis.”
The information was collated through market research and EPoS sales data after the new labelling was implemented.
Items were marked as high, medium or low for salt, fat or sugar content as part of a trial to take the scheme beyond the group’s own label foods and on to branded products.
Shelf cards showed whether the salt and fat content of comparable products was high, medium or low, so shoppers could easily choose between them and a rating of one (low) to 10 (high) was given for fat and sugar.
Croft said: “We provided the nutrition information and put it in context, and customer reaction was positive in terms of labelling and additional data.”