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Usage and understanding of food and nutritional labels among Indian consumers

Singla, Manisha
British food journal 2010 v.112 no.1 pp. 83-92
food labeling, nutrition information, foods, human nutrition, nutrition knowledge, cognition, food law, consumer surveys, social marketing, television, publications, India
Purpose - Nutritional labeling of food products is not mandatory in India at present and the Indian Government is on the verge of introducing a code of conduct for it. The aim of this paper is to provide some initial guidelines for the above-said purpose so as to have consumer friendly labeling policies. Design/methodology/approach - A structured questionnaire-based survey was used for the purpose of the study. A total of 100 respondents were considered for the study. Data were collected from two superstores located in New Delhi. Findings - Food labels are read by the consumers for brand comparisons and not for consulting nutritional information. Difficult terminology, small font size and inability to understand nutritional labels are the major problems encountered by the consumers. Television, friends, magazines are commonly used for assessing nutritional information. Labels are considered more consumer friendly when benchmarks regarding serving size are provided. Income level, size of household, number of children and age did not play a role in the usage of nutritional labels by the consumers. Consumers with special dietary needs used nutritional labels regularly. Research limitations/implications - A small sample size is the limitation of the study. Originality/value - This is the first study of its kind in India. It is valuable for the Indian Government in framing policies regarding nutritional labeling and for imparting nutritional education. It will also help it to draft consumer friendly labels for effective usage.