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‘Free-from’ labels – what do consumers really think?

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Head of Consumer Science, European Food Information Council

While food labels have become an essential part of the market place, the copious amounts of information can be overbearing and even confusing for consumers, especially in situations of impulsive or habitual buying decisions. As a consequence, it’s become increasingly important to explore how people make sense of the information they are presented with during shopping situations.   

EUFIC has looked at how consumers from four different countries (United Kingdom, France, Poland, Sweden) perceive, interpret and use ‘free-from’ labels on a variety of food products. Specifically, the labels covered gluten, lactose, palm-oil and genetically modified organisms (GMO) – four topics on which we know that consumers hold considerable misperceptions and strong beliefs, whether substantiated or not.  

Results showed that consumers found products with ‘free-from’ labels healthier than the very same products that did not carry such a label. This was true for all products across the four ‘free-from’ labels, although it was clearest for palm oil-free and GMO-free ...

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