Study: Two-thirds of Consumers Reading Labels More Often

You are what you eat and consumers are increasingly looking to see if they are another 140 calories heavier per serving, high fructose corn syrup or red dye No. 40.

A survey released today by the Nielsen Co. found that 65% of American consumers say they notice information on food packaging more often compared to only two years ago.

Sixty-seven percent of U.S. consumer claim to mostly understand what they are reading compared to 44% globally. That leaves a third of the U.S. and more than half the world wondering exactly what Sodium Benzoate and other ingredients and metrics actually mean.

“The relationship between consumers and nutritional information and labeling provides unmistakable insight into health and diet concerns,” said Deepak Varma, svp-Nielsen Customized Research in a statement. Nielsen, which owns Brandweek, polled 28,253 Internet users in 51 markets in April.

More than half (51%) of U.S. consumers always check fat content followed by 48% who always check the calories and 44% who look at the sugar content. Sodium (37%), carbohydrates (35%) and even gluten (9%) are among key concerns.

Forty-two percent of U.S. consumers said they check a product’s label when buying it for the first time. Eight percent said they never read labels.

This trend represents an opportunity for savvy brands, said Varma. “Given that so many consumers are taking time to read nutrition labels, there is also a marketing opportunity for food manufacturers to provide consumer-friendly information on labels that may entice shoppers to switch brands at the point of purchase.”