ACNielsen

ACNielsen

July 27, 2005 13:00 ET

Fat Content of Most Concern to Canadian Consumers When Shopping for Food, According to ACNielsen

MARKHAM, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - July 27, 2005) -

Trans Fat Also Regularly Checked by Nearly Half of Canadian Shoppers

Global Food Label Survey Reveals What Matters Most

Canadian consumers rate themselves among the world's most savvy shoppers when it comes to understanding nutrition labels on the foods they buy. But rather than worry about preservatives or additives, most Canadian shoppers focus on fat content and trans fat, according to a new survey of global consumers by ACNielsen, the world's leading provider of consumer and marketplace information.

The ACNielsen online study, which polled consumers in 38 markets, found that while Canadians ranked themselves very high in their understanding of nutritional information, they don't often check all the ingredients, as the chart below indicates.



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Generally, how often Percentage that checks "regularly"
do you check food ----------------------------------
labeling for the Canadian Global Canada's Rank
content or amount of: Respondents Respondents Out of 38
Markets
Surveyed
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Fat 56% 49% Tie 4th
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Trans fat 49% 24% 1st
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Sugar 45% 42% Tie 12th
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Calories 42% 43% Tie 21st
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Preservatives 36% 40% Tie 20th
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Additives 36% 36% Tie 16th
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Salt/Sodium 35% 26% Tie 7th
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Carbohydrates 32% 28% Tie 12th
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Protein 32% 28% Tie 12th
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Fiber 27% 27% 18th
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Coloring 24% 36% 33rd
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Gluten 11% 11% Tie 18th
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Glycemic Index 10% 11% Tie 18th
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Source: ACNielsen Online Consumer Confidence Study


Sharon Skurnac, vice president, Consumer Measurement Services, ACNielsen Canada, said, "Savvy consumer packaged goods manufacturers use food labels to differentiate their products and enhance consumer trust, but it's a moot point if labels aren't being read. This survey shows that there is work to be done in getting consumers more involved in using product labels."

Fat content is the item regularly checked by the highest number of consumers globally (49%) as well as in the North American (57%) and European (49%) regions. In Latin America, caloric content is checked regularly by the largest number of shoppers (59%), and preservatives topped the list in the Asia-Pacific region (47%). Several market-specific findings were noteworthy as well. For example, 60% of respondents in Mexico regularly check the fat content of the foods they buy, 62% in Brazil regularly check caloric content, and over 60% of Chinese consumers regularly check the content levels of additives, preservatives, and coloring.

Of the least regularly-checked items among Canadian consumers, half or more said they "never" check the food item's gluten level or glycemic index.

Phil Lempert, a food trends analyst and ACNielsen consultant, said, some of the findings can be attributed to what information is currently available on product labels. "Relatively few people check the glycemic index because very few companies are including the information on the labels of products sold in Canada. But that will soon change. The glycemic index is set to become the next big thing in the food industry because it takes carbohydrates to the next level - from the amount of carbs a product contains to the impact that the carb level will have on a person's weight and energy."

According to the survey, just 43% of Canadian respondents have heard of the glycemic index, a number that indicates how much a food item will impact a person's blood sugar. Across all markets, awareness ranged from a low of 11% in Japan and the Netherlands to a high of 82% in Australia. Respondents were also asked whether they know the difference between saturated and unsaturated fat. In Canada, 59% of respondents said they do. Across all markets, responses ranged from a low of 27% in Japan to a high of 82% in Norway.

Among other findings, 61% of Canadian respondents said they "mostly" understand nutritional information labels on the food products they buy - tied with New Zealanders as the third highest level among the 38 markets surveyed. In Italy, just 6% of respondents indicated such an understanding.

When are people most likely to check nutritional labels? Globally, consumers in most markets said they are most likely to do so when buying a product for the first time. Across all 38 markets, just 21% of consumers said they "always" read the labels.



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When you are buying
packaged food,
when would you check
the nutritional
information Canadian Global Canada's Rank
on the package Respondents Respondents Out of 38
Markets Surveyed
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When I'm thinking
of buying a product
for the first time 47% 41% Tie 5th
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When buying certain
food types 26% 27% Tie 22nd
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Always 21% 21% Tie 18th
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When I am on a
diet/trying to lose
weight 17% 16% Tie 14th
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When buying products
formy children 12% 12% Tie 14th
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When I have the time 12% 16% Tie 24th
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Never 5% 8% Tie 24th
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Source: ACNielsen Online Consumer Confidence Study


The findings come from the ACNielsen Online Consumer Confidence Survey, the largest twice-yearly global survey of its kind, which gauges consumers' current confidence levels, spending habits/intentions and other topics of importance to the CPG industry. The survey, which took place in May, 2005 over the Internet, polled more than 21,100 respondents in 38 markets: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, UK, USA. All markets had sample sizes of approximately 500, except for China, France, Germany, UK and USA, which had sample sizes of approximately 1000. The survey has a margin for error of plus or minus 3.3% to 4.4%.

To see an overview of the survey please visit http://acnielsen.com.

ACNielsen, a VNU business, is the world's leading marketing information provider. Offering services in more than 100 countries, the unit provides measurement and analysis of marketplace dynamics and consumer attitudes and behavior. Clients rely on ACNielsen's market research, proprietary products, analytical tools and professional service to understand competitive performance, to uncover new opportunities and to raise the profitability of their marketing and sales campaigns.

Note to Editors: Look for this press release and other ACNielsen news on the Internet at http://acnielsen.com/news and http://acnielsen.ca

Contact Information

  • ACNielsen Canada
    Marlene Jenett
    (905) 943-8511