Consumer information is not a luxury but a necessity. Studies show that too often, consumers cannot understand what the information means, or even that it does not have the intended effect. It is an accepted fact that in our modern "developed" societies, individuals are bombarded by an information overload compared to a few decades ago.
The FLABEL project (Food Labelling to Advance Better Education for Life) is coordinated by EUFIC (European Food Information Council). FLABEL is a European Commission-funded three-year project managed by EUFIC, a consortium of big food industry multinationals.
The project aims to conduct Europe-wide research on how nutrition labelling is done and to deliver project outcomes in the form of clearer, more transparent and understandable nutrition labelling which will be more useful to consumers wanting a healthier and balanced diet.
The project partners are seven university research centres, a major food distributor, the European Association of Small and Medium-size Enterprises (UEAPME), EUROCOOP (mainly as a co-operative distribution company) and COFACE, the only organisation of family consumers.
Final results of the FLABEL project
Despite good understanding and prevalence of nutrition information on food labels in Europe, a lack of motivation and attention of consumers prevents labels from impacting positively on food choices. These are the final results from the FLABEL project (Food Labelling to Advance Better Education for Life).
The project provides state-of-the-art research on consumer behaviour and nutrition labels, and will provide guidelines for research, industry and policy-makers.
The different formats already in place for Nutrition labelling (Nutrition table, Traffic Light scheme, Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA), Health Logos, etc.) may stimulate different responses. FLABEL therefore aimed to fully examine the aspects that lead from label availability to effects on dietary intake.
In an EU-wide nutrition labelling audit carried out in 84 retail stores, more than 37,000 products of five product categories, sweet biscuits, breakfast cereals, chilled pre-packed ready meals, carbonated soft drinks, and yoghurts were examined.
FLABEL found that food packages held consumers’ visual attention for very short periods, with the average attention to elements of nutrition labels being between 25 and 100 milliseconds, as measured by sophisticated equipment.
These results were presented on 24-25 November 2011 at the final conference. The FLABEL consortium is comprised of 13 partners from 8 countries, ranging from academic experts, retailers, SME-representatives to not-for-profit organisations, as COFACE.
Nine COFACE member organisations took part in this project: