NPD Group: Consumers pay most attention to sugar and calorie content when reading the nutrition facts label

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages / Ridofranz
©GettyImages / Ridofranz

Related tags: Fda, Nutrition facts panel

When it comes to reading the updated nutrition facts label, consumers are most keyed into sugar and calorie content, reports The NPD Group.

The FDA’s final guidance on Nutrition Facts labeling regulations for food, beverage, and dietary supplement manufacturers are intended to make nutrition information such as sugar and calorie content easier to find by listing calories in larger font and including an additional line for added sugar content. 

Sugars now include the sugars added during processing. According to FDA guidance​ from last year, sugars created through controlled hydrolysis should also be declared as added sugars on the label. 

Food companies with annual sales of at least $10m in annual revenue began following the FDA’s updated nutrition facts labeling rules on Jan. 1, 2020. Those with less than $10m in annual sales have until January 2021 to comply, although the FDA has given firms a 6-month grace period when it comes to enforcement to get to grips with the new rules.

“Consumers are interested in the content of the foods they eat and the nutrition facts label is their best source for this information,”​ said Darren Seifer, NPD Group food and beverage industry analyst.  

According to Seifer, the updated nutrition facts labeling regulations can serve as a way for brands and retailers to differentiate themselves from the competition.

“With most food companies working on the health profile of the foods they produce; the nutrition facts label provides them with the ability to showcase these improvements,” ​Seifer commented.   

Serving sizes final guidance

Photo: Getty Images

The FDA issued final guidance​ on its Nutrition Facts labeling regulations addressing serving sizes of foods that can reasonably be consumed at one eating occasion. The FDA specified that a serving size must be written in a common household measure such as cups, tablespoons, or teaspoons. If cups, tablespoons, or teaspoons are not applicable, units such as piece, slice, tray, jar, or fraction must be used.

FDA Nutrition Facts full guidance

Sugar and calories are top of mind for many consumers

According to The NPD Group’s Health Aspirations and Behavioral Tracking Service, nearly 90% of US adults read nutrition labels. Approximately 45% of consumers look at calorie content on nutrition labels while more than half (57%) of US adults look for sugars, pointing to a persistent trend of sugar reduction. 

HealthFocus International’s 2019 USA Trend Study: Shoppers’ Journey Towards Living & Eating Healthier​​ (conducted in November-December 2018 with 2,000+ respondents) revealed that 45% of respondents said reducing sugar and 24% noted avoiding artificial sweeteners has become more important in their diet over the last year.

Innova Market Insights also pointed out that consumers are more interested in cutting back on sugar than replacing it with zero-calorie sweeteners.

New food and beverage product launches tracked by Innova Market Insights found that 8% of new products in 2018 featured a sugar reduction claim with claims ‘no added sugar’ being the most prominent accounting for 42% of all sugar-related claims, ahead of sugar-free (36%) and low sugar (27%).

Other nutrients consumers consider

For 38% of US adults, sodium content is the top item they look at and 33% say they look for the amount of protein in the food.

“While total fat and trans fat are important to a fair amount of people, there is little interest in saturated fat. Potassium is a new addition to the label because of its importance in a healthy diet. Nine percent of consumers say they read the label for potassium content,”​ noted NPD Group.





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