retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Time magazine has a story about a University of Minnesota study suggesting that people don’t actually look at nutrition information on food packages as much as they say they do.

Using an eye-tracking device with a group of designated shoppers, the study found that there was “a big difference between what the eye tracker said people looked at and what the participants self-reported they typically looked at while shopping. Thirty-three percent of participants said they ‘almost always’ looked at a product's calorie content on the Nutrition Facts label; 31% said they almost always looked at total fat content (20% said they looked at trans fats); 24% said they studied products' sugar content and 26% said they paid close attention to serving size.

“What the eye-tracking data showed: only 9% looked at calorie count for almost all the items in the experiment; 1% looked at each of the other components, including fat, trans fat, sugar and serving size, for almost all of the products.”

There was some encouraging news: “More than 70% of the participants viewed at least one component of the average Nutrition Facts label at least some of the time. And more than half viewed each of ve label components (servings, calories, total fat, saturated fat and trans fat) on the average label.

“Surprisingly, while only 26% of people self-reported that they almost always look at Nutrition Facts labels at the grocery store, 37% of them actually looked at at least one component of the label for almost all food items.”
KC's View:
These are just snapshots of the moment. The thing is, technology makes it possible for the industry to provide vast amounts of information ... nutritional, scientific, even artistic (in the form of recipes). The food industry should embrace the opportunity - it creates teachable moments, sales opportunities, and, ultimately, trust.