The nutritional pictogram war

 In Food industry, Retail

Although there is still no European consensus about nutritional pictograms, France took a new step forward by refocusing the debate on the one it concerns the most: the consumer.

In France, the health law of January 26th 2016 provides for the implementation of a graphical nutritional labelling system on food packages to improve consumer information. Even though this labelling is not mandatory, industrialists are strongly opposed to it and it was the subject of long debates. Therefore, until the end of the year, the Ministry of Health will be testing four different nutritional labelling systems in stores in order to choose the one that will be recommended (but not imposed) on packages. A test that will cost 1,6 million euros…

Four notations are competing, from the most simple to the most complex. Fifty stores, selected at random (among the brands that volunteer, excluding franchisees), will be chosen to take part in the experiment. Each of the four labelling systems will be tested in ten sales locations, while the last ten will be control samples. The operation should last ten weeks.

In the protocol, hypermarkets were finally excluded from the experiments: too many products to label and too many baskets to record… The test will therefore only include supermarkets and hard discounters, and a maximal tolerable surface might even be prescribed in order to “adjust” the intervention costs even more.

On the shelf, four to six product categories will be tested (yogurts and dairy deserts, fresh catering, canned meals, pastries and packaged bakery products, breakfast cereals and biscuits, non alcoholic refreshing drinks).

The study aims to determine the impact of the various labelling systems on basket composition, and the potential acquisition deferrals that they cause. The chosen categories were selected because they constitute a diverse nutritional offer, more likely to justify new decisions from consumers that are better informed.

The consumers now have the floor. Time will tell us if their expectations coincide with the recommendations made by the industrialists and the authorities…

We will keep you updated.

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