Labelling can help consumers make informed, healthy and sustainable food choices. In that sense, front-of-pack nutrition labelling (FOPNL) is one of the tools that support the prevention of diet-related, non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or cancers.
Under the current EU rules, the provision of nutrition information on the front-of-pack is possible on a voluntary basis. A variety of voluntary public and private FOPNL schemes have been developed and are currently used at different degrees in Member States.
The European Commission has announced, both in its Farm to Fork strategy and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, a proposal for harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling for the EU.
To that end, studies have been carried out by the Joint Research Center to, on the one hand, update the previous literature review with recent evidence, published since 31 May 2018; and on the other hand, the report collects relevant scientific publications published after 1990, focusing on the following the effects of FOPNL schemes on consumer understanding and impacts on consumer behaviour.
Results of the front-of-pack nutrition labelling report
The JRC study on front-of-pack nutrition labelling showed that:
- Consumers generally value front-of-pack nutrition labels as a quick and easy way to acquire nutrition information when making purchase decisions.
- Less complex labels require less attention and time for consumers to be processed.
- In general, consumers, including consumers with lower income, appear to prefer simple, colourful and evaluative summary front-of-pack labels, which are more easily understood, than more complex, non-evaluative, monochrome labels.
- Front-of-pack nutrition labels can guide consumers towards healthier diets.
- FOPNL seems to provide incentives to food businesses to improve the nutritional quality of their products, such as by reducing added salt or sugars.
As explained before, this report is one of the 4 scientific studies conducted by the European Joint Research Center (FOPNL; Market analysis of the labelling of alcoholic beverages; Food information through other means than on labels, including digital means; and Origin labelling) to synthesise the current evidence on front-of-pack nutrition labelling, origin labelling and food information through other means than on labels as well as to analyse what is currently present on the market as regards the labelling of alcoholic beverages.
You want to know more about the findings? Find here the full report: Front-of-pack nutrition labelling schemes: an update of the evidence.