The deception behind food packaging
Posted: 7 November 2016 | | No comments yet
A team of researchers from Kiel University have found that food contained in light-coloured packaging is thought to appear to be healthier to consumers…
A team of researchers from Kiel University have found that food contained in light-coloured packaging appears to be healthier to consumers.
According to the study, the colour of packaging itself determines how healthy we as consumers might perceive a product to be. On the other hand, those unconcerned with health might also be deceived by packaging into letting its colour determine how we anticipate the contents to taste.
Webinar: eBook: Thermo Fisher Scientific Food Integrity Collection 2017
Over the course of the year Thermo Fisher Scientific have provided expert comment on a whole swathe of issues including food fraud, origin testing and labelling regulations. This collection also provides access to Thermo Fisher’s Food Authenticity webinar series for 2017, where experts delve into olive oil characterisation, gelatin speciation, honey and chromatography, and more.
While it has long been known that the aesthetics of food packaging often affect consumer purchases, researchers have now found that colour also exerts an influence on those who purchase products.
This event pioneers the conversation on issues relating to food waste, from legislation to packaging and household trends. It will also equip delegates with the strategies and techniques for measuring, monitoring and analysing supply chain to identify areas of food wastage.
While packaging with a lighter colouring is generally perceived to contain healthier products, they are equally considered by many to have less taste thus deterring those who are not influenced by the health factor.
In the study, published to the Journal of Retailing, researchers from Kiel University found that the colour of food packaging can cue both health associations and negative taste inferences with the contents, ultimately shaping a consumer’s decision.
How was this conclusion reached?
The research team at Kiel recruited 179 participants who were each shown the same herb cream cheese in both light green and darker green packaging.
In the first place, participants were not allowed to taste the contents. The aim of this was to replicate a scenario in which the consumer is placed in a supermarket and able to scan the shelves but must make inferences on the taste.
In this experiment, researchers found that pale colouring was a significant factor for more health-conscious individuals.
In the second experiment, consumers were allowed to taste the contents and it was found that those less concerned with their health also viewed the light packaging as more healthy – but crucially, they thought it was less tasty.
A spokesperson for the research team explained that “since human abilities are too limited to distinguish more or less healthy products by taste… healthiness evaluations were guided by package colour even after the consumers had tried the product.
“Thus, when selling healthy foods to less health-aware shoppers, pale packages can have a deterrent effect.
“Employing darker tones could be one way to compensate for a perceived taste decrease.”