Jump to Main Content
Notions of region and the Mediterranean diet in food advertising: Quality marks or subjective criteria
- Cannon, Jackie
- British food journal 2005 v.107 no.2 pp. 74-83
- European Union, Mediterranean diet, food advertising, food choices, food industry, food labeling, food marketing, foods, ingredients, supermarkets, United Kingdom
- Purpose - The paper aims to review the perceived benefits of the Mediterranean diet alongside traditional or regional foodstuffs, and to examine the extent to which food producers and retailers make use of these labels in order to enhance the perceived value of their products. Design/methodology/approach - The paper draws on marketing literature relating to origin cues within the food industry. It first analyses criteria used by the EU for food labelling, following this with a review of the perceived value of authenticity in foodstuffs, offering an evaluation of Mediterranean-labelled products available from a leading UK supermarket chain. Findings - The paper involves an exploration into the descriptors used by food producers, suggesting they are designed to respond to consumers' subjective criteria in food choices with only tenuous links to the promoted origins and corresponding quality designations. It is concluded that regional and Mediterranean labels do not display common dietary or preparation features but are convenient marketing labels designed to enhance food product attributes. Originality/value - It appears that regional links or the term "Mediterranean", when linked to foodstuffs, suggest a level of authenticity that is not always borne out in product ingredients and preparation methods. Origin and authenticity are widely held to enhance the perceived attributes of food products but this paper highlights certain mismatches between regional quality marks and food marketing practices. Greater awareness of the practices employed to satisfy "subjective criteria" when making food choices is of benefit to consumers.