Front-of-package symbols appear to have had an effect on breakfast cereal consumers in Chile, prompting them toward healthier products, according to new research.
The study, by an American and an Israeli researcher, looked at consumption patterns in Chile, the country with the most advanced front-of-pack warning label system. In 2016,
The researchers focused on breakfast cereal, using hand-collected data from two Chilean stores, plus sales data from Nielsen and Mintel. They found that in the first two years of the front-of-pack mandate, market share for cereals that exceeded the calorie guidelines fell by about 12% to 18%, and for those that exceeded the sugar guidelines, by about 3% to 7%.
The study also detected changes to Chilean cereals’ nutrition profiles in the wake of the new law. “Assortments changed after the labeling law went into effect because breakfast cereal manufacturers adjusted their product offerings,” it says. “For example, Nestlé introduced a reformulated version of its top-selling cereal product, Chocapic, that is lower in calories and sugar.”
The study found a tendency by manufacturers to reformulate their cereals so that they wouldn’t have to carry the label warnings. These reforms collectively amounted to 17 fewer calories and 1.3g less of sugar per serving. Manufacturers as a whole practiced “bunching in the distribution of calorie and sugar content of cereals just below the 2016 thresholds,” the report says.
The study, “Beyond Consumer Switching: Supply Responses to Food Packaging and Advertising Regulations,” was published in the Informs journal Marketing Science.