Nutri-Score on the supermarket shelf is not the best

A large Belgian retailer has been placing Nutri-Score of all products in black and white on electronic shelf labels since May 2019. The Federal Research Institute Sciensano has investigated whether customers are more likely to buy healthy food as a result. The result is variable.

Nutrition score from A to E indicates how healthy the food is. Calories, sugar, saturated fat, and salt increase the score worse, pushing them toward E. Protein, fiber, fruits, vegetables, and nuts make the score better, pushing them toward A. Nutri-Score B and C products, but also more unhealthy D-scores.

Results also vary depending on the type of food. In about a third of the surveyed categories, customers often bought products with Nutri-Score A or B or fewer products with Nutri-Score D or E. This was especially true for vegetables, fruits, dairy, and desserts. In categories such as bread and bakery products, consumers bought less healthy products. There was no effect in the other groups.

According to Sciensano, the effect of the labels on the shelves is less than what would be expected from other studies. There are several possible explanations for this symptom. First, these studies are usually conducted with people who consciously participated in the study. Realizing that you are participating in an experience can guide your behavior.

Moreover, the labels for the shelves were in black and white, while previous research has shown that colors are of great importance for such grades. Another explanation is that in the meantime there were other Nutri-Score promotions in the supermarket chain, such as discounts. There have also been brands that put the result on the product itself and others that have not.

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For Vandevijvere offers In any case, the study shows that Nutri-Score on shelf labels is not sufficient to convincingly influence buying behaviour. “It is clear that more is needed.”

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