Could more front-of-pack information on products really lead to better food choices, aligning consumer demands for tasty food and companies’ responsibility to produce healthy food?
According to MacCleery, the main advantage in front-of pack nutrition labelling is that it drives reformulation across the board.
PepsiCo, however, experienced the downside of this when there is no level playing field for all companies.
When it switched to NuSun sunflower oil for its potato chips, it added a healthy oil logo to the packet only to see sales promptly decrease. When it removed the logo (but kept frying the chips in sunflower oil), sales krept back up again despite the fact the taste was the same.
Learning from this mistake, Kahn (pictured) said PepsiCo has since reduced the salt content in its chips but, apart from the obligatory back-of-pack nutrition information, did not communicate about the healthier profile. “Not bringing consumers along on that journey meant that we got there,” he added.
MacCleery said: “It’s not a clash but a market failure, and [to deal with] a market failure you create transparency, standards and level the playing field.”
O’Brien echoed this: “We have to start looking at things much more systemically. If you take one product out or one category out, people will just move to another product or category. We have to solve the problems by looking at the system, not one entity at a time.”