Background The availability and format of Front-of-Pack nutrition labels (i.e. Traffic Lights) on product packaging supports consumers’ use of this information when making food choices.1 For products sold online, research around 2015 has indicated inconsistences in the presentation of nutrition information across supermarket websites2 and a lack of use of product information by online shoppers.3 However, online grocery shopping is currently growing in popularity in the UK and has the potential to support the selection and purchase of healthier foods via the provision of appropriate product nutrition information/signposting.4 This study aims to assess the penetration of FOP nutrition label information on products sold in UK online supermarkets. Variations in the availability and presentation of this information by online retailer, brand, product category and nutritional composition are also to be explored.
Methods Conducted during 2020–2021, products sold within the entire (chilled) beef burger, Greek yoghurt and muesli categories of five UK online supermarkets were surveyed. Data was collected on presence, type and format components of FOP labelling together with information on product attributes, including brand and nutritional composition. The latter was used to calculate FOP traffic light colour coding according to UK criteria.5 Preliminary analysis performed included descriptive statistics presented by retailer, product brand and overall nutritional composition
Results Findings show that 59% of the total of 244 surveyed products displayed FOP labelling, with variations in penetration across retailers. Where FOP labelling was declared, 62% of products displayed this in formats compliant with one or more elements of ‘best practice’ guidance on the presentation of this information on-pack.6 Overall, greater penetration of FOP traffic light labels was found on products of supermarkets’ own brand (64%), or those with ≤ 1 red traffic lights (96%), compared to branded products (19%) or those with ≥2 red traffic lights (1%).
Conclusion Initial findings suggest the penetration of FOP nutrition labelling on products sold in UK online supermarkets is variable within and between retailers. Further research is warranted. To ensure the consistent availability and presentation of FOP nutrition label information across all product types sold in UK supermarket websites, there is a need for presentational guidance.
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DoH. (2016). Department of Health. Guide to creating a front of pack (FoP) nutrition label for pre-packed products sold through retail outlets.
IGD. (2017). Designing, presenting and positioning front of pack nutrition labels: a best practice guide based on consumer research. https://www.igd.com/social-impact/health/engaging-consumers/labelling/designing-front-of-pack-nutrition-labels (accessed March 2021).
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