lunes, 2 de mayo de 2011
UK: Food labeling confuses ethical shoppers, says survey
Survey reveals environmental labeling schemes hinder rather than help consumers opt for low-impact food
Shoppers who actively seek out sustainable and ethically sourced food struggle to find what they want and are generally "overwhelmed and confused" by the vast array of different environmental labels in use, new research has shown.
Seven out of 10 UK consumers admitted they would pay more attention to the environmental impact of the foods they buy if labels were clearer and more meaningful, according to a survey of over 1,000 people carried out by the consumer group.
Labels aim to give shoppers information about where their food has come from – whether it has been produced organically, for example, and reflecting its carbon footprint.
But the overall level of awareness of the nine main schemes in use was very low and they are "poorly understood", researchers found. Some people had never even noticed the labels that asked them about – even though they admitted to buying products that they appear on.
Nearly half the respondents (47%) said there were already too many things to think about already without worrying about the environmental impact of the food they buy. People who are better are off financially are more likely to be interested, and younger rather than older people.
The research for this major project was carried out in three stages – involving focus groups and face-to-face surveys – to canvas the views of a broad spectrum of people from different backgrounds.
Sustainable food was associated more with retailers perceived as offering higher quality rather than the supermarkets catering for the economy end of the market.
The research is published in the report which concludes: "While some schemes are recognized and valued, on the whole they do little to help consumers make more informed choices across a broad range of foods. Labels cover different impacts and often appear on a relatively limited range of foods. This is compounded by a number of contradictions and inconsistencies, eg schemes have been developed to deal with specific elements of 'sustainability', some overlap or make similar claims; others are narrowly focused."
Significantly, around three-quarters (74%) of people said that environmental labeling schemes on foods should be run by bodies that are independent from the industry itself.