Front-of-pack (FOP) labels offer easier access for consumers to understand nutritional information on products; they provide more visual, simpler knowledge about the key nutrition value of packaged goods. A Nutri-Score (NS) FOP label summarises, in a combination from five colour-codes from dark green to red and letters A to E, the healthy score of the product—where A/dark green represents the highest nutritional quality of the product, and E/red, the lowest. The purpose of the NS is to provide a simplified way for consumers to make an informed decision, not to replace the more detailed nutritional values displayed in the packaging.
Focusing on the NS label, researchers from Ghent University in Belgium analysed consumers' purchasing behaviours in research published in Appetite (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2020.104995). Their goal was to: “take a consumer perspective and specifically address the impact of the NS, rather than comparing it with other FOP nutrition labels … consider how focusing on the healthiness of products influences purchase intentions …[and] to link the impact of the NS to brand types and find that focusing on product healthiness can help a firm gain a competitive advantage, regardless of whether it uses a manufacturer brand or private label.”
The results showed that the presence of the NS label made it easier for consumers to assess their perception of the healthiness of the products. The NS increased healthiness awareness of products, and participants associated the presence of NS labels with healthier products. Consumers could also distinguish the perceived healthiness levels of products among the different colours and letters categories. Researchers also found participants were more inclined to buy products with NS labels coloured green, A and B. Interestingly, NS labels could boost sales of healthy products without interfering with the sales of less healthy, indulgent products.
Researchers concluded, "Respondents better assessed the healthiness of products when they saw the NS, and they did not simplify it further, according to findings showing that respondents perceived the healthiness of products in each of the five NS categories significantly differently. In turn, respondents indicated significantly higher purchase intentions for healthy products when the NS was present (vs not present), yet no differences in purchase intentions for unhealthy products when it was present. Finally, perceived healthiness mediated the relationship between the presence of the NS and purchase intentions.