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April 26, 2005

UK: Tesco announces ‘nutritional signpost’ labelling scheme

Supermarket chain Tesco has announced a new food labelling system, with ‘nutritional signposts,’ which it says will make it easier for shoppers to make healthier choices.

Supermarket chain Tesco has announced a new food labelling system, with ‘nutritional signposts,’ which it says will make it easier for shoppers to make healthier choices.

It rejected a government backed idea for a ‘traffic light’ system of labels.

With nutritional ‘signposts’ Tesco will clearly label the front of hundreds of its own label packs with the key nutritional information customers need to choose a balanced diet, it said.

The amount of salt, fat, saturated fat, sugar and calories in a serving of each product will be clearly stated in grams. Labels will also state how much of the guideline daily amount this makes up, so customers can get an idea of how this fits into their diet as a whole.

By separating the key nutrients the labels help shoppers monitor any or all of the areas they are concerned about depending on the individual, for example salt if they have high blood pressure or calories if they are watching their waistlines. The simple labelling means it’s easy for customers to stay within their recommended amount without doing complicated calculations.

The first of the new style labels will be in store from this week and will be rolled out over the coming months. Tesco’s 300,000 Healthy Living club members will be receiving information on ‘signposts’ this week.

The ‘signposting’ initiative follows months of extensive research Tesco has done with customers to find the most helpful way of displaying nutritional information.

“We know from talking to our customers that they are increasingly concerned about health and diet and want Tesco to help them lead a healthier lifestyle, said marketing director, Tim Mason.

“Signposts provide clear and easy to understand information in a way which gives customers the power to choose products that will help them follow a balanced diet,” he said. “Because they are split into five main categories the signposts also help customers who have specific dietary needs to keep a close eye on any area they might be worried about.”

“It will now be easier than ever for customers to make healthy choices at a glance as they shop and without the need for a mathematics degree,” he said.

Tesco was the first retailer to propose clearer front of pack labelling, opting initially to trial a ‘traffic light’ system. Subsequent research with customers over the last twelve months has shown that this system was too simplistic, for example, customers did not know how to treat amber and could not relate the system to daily consumption. Feedback also showed traffic lights could mislead customers by creating ‘red foods’ such as many dairy items, which in fact provide important nutrients like calcium.

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