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Svederberg, Eva (2002)
Publisher: [Publisher information missing]
Languages: English
Types: Report
Subjects: nutrition claims, education, Utbildningsvetenskap, contextual analysis, food products, Consumers, health claims, Educational Sciences
Use of nutrition claims and health claims in labelling of food products is frequent, not least on
food products categorised as functional foods. Studies show frequent use of such information
in consumers’ choice of food products, even if many consumers find it confusing and want it
reinforced by other trusted sources of information. Studies also show consumers to have a low
understanding of concepts used and statements made.
The aim of the present study was to investigate how, when consumers are presented with
nutrition claims and health claims on packaged food products, their thinking about such texts
on food products is affected by various types of food-related experiences.
An empirical study comprised a group of thirty Swedish consumers aged 25 to 64. The
open and explorative form of data collection comprised individual semi-structured interviews,
where the points of departure were nutrition claims and health claims found on the package of
a margarine and a loaf of bread, both sold in Sweden. The analysis aimed at categorising how
food-related experiences are involved in consumers' thinking about such statements.
Participants who expressed special concern for their own and their families’ health
situation, at present and in the long term, were found to be eager to find out the meaning of
concepts and statements made, and many of them searched for more information on the
packages. A lack of understanding and the credibility of concepts and expressions often
caused suspiciousness of the product, which however in some cases was counterbalanced by
confidence in manufacturers, retailers and/or the Swedish food legislation. Participants who
expressed concern for their traditional eating habits tended to put up with their lack of
understanding of concepts and statements on the packages, and rather expressed concern for
To achieve fruitful written communication of food products' health-conducive properties on
packaged food labels, there is a need to consider the importance many consumers attach to
understand the meaning of concepts and expressions used, and the importance of credibility in
certain expressions. For fruitful communication, there is also a need to meet consumers in
relation to their varying food-related experiences.
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