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Front-of-pack traffic lights confuse UK consumers

Posted: 6 September 2022 | | No comments yet

Research from Nestlé Cereals reveals that 34% of UK consumers do not know what the traffic light nutritional labelling system means, flagging concerns over consumer confusion.

confused family shopping

Research by Nestlé Cereals has uncovered customer confusion regarding front-of-pack labelling systems.

The brand found that a third (34%) of UK consumers do not know what the traffic light front-of-pack nutritional labelling system means, despite the fact 76% say they look at the system when choosing something to eat, while half (51%) confirm it influences what they purchase or eat.

The findings come as a result of the brand’s new ‘no reds’ campaign, which showcases the number of cereals under its umbrella (18 to be exact) that do not feature red traffic lights. Nestlé stresses that this campaign was put in place to allow consumers to have more choice and less worry when choosing breakfast cereals. 

The traffic light system has been designed to empower consumers, so they can easily compare the nutritional contents of different products and make healthier choices. The red, amber and green colours show at a glance whether a product is high, medium, or low in fat, saturated fat, sugar, or salt. If a product has less red and more green than another, it should – in theory – be the healthier choice.

The pros and cons of nutrient modelling systems

What was perhaps the most surprising finding, according to Nestlé Cereals, is that one in 10 consumers (11%) were not aware of the product labelling system at all.

“Despite the importance of the nutritional front-of-pack traffic light labelling system, it is very concerning that our research has found many consumers do not know how to interpret the labels and some are not even aware of the labelling system’s existence,” said Toby Baker, Marketing Director UK, Nestlé Cereals.

“At Nestlé Cereals, we are committed to improving the nutritional profile of our cereals and are proud of the fact that 18 products in our portfolio have no red traffic lights meaning consumers can be reassured they are choosing a breakfast option that is not classified as ‘high’ in fat, saturates, sugars or salt.

“That’s why we’ve launched our ‘no reds’ campaign – creating our imagined World’s Widest Variety Pack so that consumers can see exactly which of our products contain no red traffic lights. We’ll also be adding an arrow to signpost where to find the front-of-pack label on our 18 ‘no reds’ products and have updated our website with a section explaining the nutritional traffic light labelling system to help our consumers make informed, confident dietary choices.”

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