Consumers want simpler food labels, survey finds


2,000 consumers are quizzed about their attitudes towards labelling and food content

Consumers overwhelmingly want simpler food labels and fewer additives, according to a new survey commissioned by UK clean label ingredient specialist Ulrick & Short.

Food manufacturers are very much aware of the requirements of the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU 1169/2011), due to come into effect on 13 December. But only a few months away from the introduction of the new guidelines, Ulrick & Short’s survey has highlighted key consumer concerns about food labelling and ingredients, which will not necessarily be addressed.

The changes in legislation required under the Food Information for Consumers (FIC) regulation will include:

  • Mandatory nutrition information on processed foods (by 2016);
  • Mandatory origin labelling of unprocessed meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry;
  • Highlighting allergens e.g. peanuts or milk in the list of ingredients;
  • Better legibility i.e. minimum size of text; and
  • Requirements on information on allergens also cover non pre-packed foods including those sold in restaurants and cafés.

But the survey, which questioned 2,000 consumers about their attitudes towards labelling and food content, revealed that the topic of greatest concern was the complexity of labels on food.

Three-quarters (75%) of respondents said they would like to see simpler labelling, with nearly half – around 45% – avoiding artificial additives such as e-numbers in their foodstuffs.

Adrian Short, Director of Ulrick & Short, said: \'Our entire philosophy rests on our commitment to providing genuine clean label, non-GM alternatives to food ingredients, whether that’s removing additives such as phosphates, making food healthier by reducing fat, or simply creating allergen-free versions of old favourites. As well as improving the nutritional profile of many products, U&S ingredients provide manufacturers with the means to effortlessly simplify and clean up their ingredient declarations – which is clearly what consumers want.

\'More than 70% of survey respondents said that they are much more aware of their eating habits than they used to be, indicating that they are more likely to pay attention to what is in their food. FIC will actually add to the burden on food manufacturers, requiring them to include even more information on their packaging. There’s no better time to take a good look at making better use of clean label ingredients, not just for health or cost reasons but also to clean up ingredient declarations and meet the demand from consumers for simpler, clearer labelling.\'

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Ulrick & Short, based in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, supplies food manufacturers across the world with clean label non-GM starches, flours, proteins and fibres.