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The influence of front-of-package nutrition claims on food perceptions and purchase intentions among Nepali consumers

Menger-Ogle, Andrew D., Graham, Dan J.
Food quality and preference 2018 v.66 pp. 160-170
adults, children, consumer attitudes, food choices, food packaging, food purchasing, marketing, models, nutrition labeling, obesity, path analysis, perceptions (cognitive), snack foods, taste, Nepal
Obesity is increasing in countries undergoing nutrition transition (e.g., Nepal) largely due to changing food environments. Food choices are influenced by marketing and packaging, including front-of-pack nutrition claims (FOPNCs). Although FOPNCs can help consumers identify healthful foods, these claims can also lead consumers to unduly attribute healthfulness to unhealthful food products. This study investigated the effects of FOPNCs on consumers’ purchase intentions and product perceptions of snack foods. Participants were 239 adult shoppers in Kathmandu, Nepal. Participants viewing product images rated purchase intentions and seven product perceptions (e.g., healthfulness, tastiness). Participants reported their two most important shopping priorities, and explained why they found a specific FOPNC to be truthful/influential or not. Path analyses of multiple mediation models showed that FOPNCs most often influenced the product perception of healthful for children, while product perceptions of tasty and adults like it were most predictive of purchase intention. Inductive thematic analysis of open-ended responses identified various reasons for trust and skepticism in FOPNCs. FOPNCs were largely described as useful, despite their inconsistent influence on perceptions. Thematic analysis of shopping priorities resulted in 10 themes; the three most prevalent were quality, familiarity, and taste. Only 12% of reported shopping priorities appeared to motivate the use of FOPNCs (i.e., health and nutrition and package labeling). Evidence that FOPNCs create health halos for snack foods did emerge. However, FOPNCs’ inconsistent or absent impact on most product perceptions and purchase intentions suggest that FOPNCs are not a primary contributor to increasing obesity during Nepal’s nutrition transition.