Nutritional Shelf-Labeling Found Effective in Canada

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Portland, ME — Prominent display of nutritional information translates into higher sales and measurable nutritional benefits because customers make healthier food choices, according to research of stores that implemented the Guiding Stars nutritional guidance program.

The article, “Consumers’ Response to an On-Shelf Nutrition Labelling System in Supermarkets: Evidence to Inform Policy and Practice,” was published in The Milbank Quarterly, a peer-reviewed journal specializing in original research, policy review and analysis.

The investigationwas led by Erin Hobin of Public Health Ontario and colleagues from Duke University, the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo. It was designed to reveal whether simple nutrition labels on grocery store shelves help consumers make healthier food choices. According to data from three supermarket chains and interviews with nearly 800 shoppers, the Guiding Stars system helped shoppers choose items with less trans fat and sugar and more fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.

The study also found that stores that implemented Guiding Stars generated higher sales and revenue: The report discovered increases in the number of products per transaction, price per product purchased and total revenues. This was the first investigation of its kind to note a positive effect on store sales and revenue from an on-shelf nutrition labelling system.

The U.S. National Academies specifically requested that information from the study, noting that higher sales may motivate food purveyors to engage in efforts to encourage healthier consumer choices.

The greatest positive shifts were seen in categories consumers perceive as healthier, such as fruit and vegetables, grains and cereals, dairy products, eggs, meats and fish.

For more than a decade, Guiding Stars has provided a science-based food rating system centered on a patented and transparent algorithm that objectively assesses nutritional value and assigns a starred rating.

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