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Appetite. 2012 Dec;59(3):806-17. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.08.014. Epub 2012 Aug 20.

Understanding how consumers categorise nutritional labels: a consumer derived typology for front-of-pack nutrition labelling.

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Food Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre, Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences, University of Surrey, Stag Hill, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK.


Significant ongoing debate exists amongst stakeholders as to the best front-of-pack labelling approach and emerging evidence suggests that the plethora of schemes may cause confusion for the consumer. To gain a better understanding of the relevant psychological phenomena and consumer perspectives surrounding FoP labelling schemes and their optimal development a Multiple Sort Procedure study involving free sorting of a range of nutritional labels presented on cards was performed in four countries (n=60). The underlying structure of the qualitative data generated was explored using Multiple Scalogram Analysis. Elicitation of categorisations from consumers has the potential to provide a very important perspective in this arena and results demonstrated that the amount of information contained within a nutrition label has high salience for consumers, as does the health utility of the label although a dichotomy exists in the affective evaluation of the labels containing varying degrees of information aggregation. Classification of exiting front-of-pack labelling systems on a proposed dimension of 'directiveness' leads to a better understanding of why some schemes may be more effective than others in particular situations or for particular consumers. Based on this research an enhanced hypothetical front-of-pack labelling scheme which combines both directive and non-directive elements is proposed.

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