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Shoppers Demand Food Label Education

MEDIA RELEASE November 12, 2001


A substantial 87% of New Zealand grocery shoppers want more information on how to read food labels so that they can make educated choices about their diet, according to the results of a new study released by Sanitarium® Health Food Company . The study, conducted by NFO CM Research, has revealed that just one in five people who read food labels understand all the information. Sanitarium has released this information as part of the Australian New Zealand Food Authority launch of their campaign (November 14) to educate shoppers about how to crack the 'nutrition code'.

Sanitarium Nutrition Education Service Manager Kim Stirling says people are often confused about how to make the best nutrition choices for their health.

"Sanitarium's research confirms most people want to understand more about what they are eating. There is clearly a demand for the new labelling and an education programme to support it.

"It is important people can read and understand nutrition information panels, so they can use the information to compare products and make healthy food choices," says Mrs Stirling.

"People want to take control of their health and decrease the risk of heart disease, as well as other diet-related problems such as high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. Knowing exactly what you are eating is a vital part of this control and ultimately healthy living."

Only 22% of shoppers say they understand all of the information on nutrition labels with 53% saying they understand most of the information.

"These results support what ANZFA and Sanitarium are doing," says Mrs Stirling.

ANZFA are launching an education programme to teach shoppers how to read food labels. The campaign also highlights changes to food labels that were introduced at the end of last year.

Sanitarium conducted similar research in Australia which also showed a high consumer demand (85%) for more information on how to read nutrition labels.

Mrs Stirling says it is the food industry's responsibility to supply as much information as possible to shoppers, making it easier for them to make healthy choices.

"Sanitarium supported the Minister of Health, Hon Annette King last year during the labelling review to ensure detailed information on fats and sugars were mandatory on packaging.

"The Sanitarium/NFO CM Research Food Labelling study found that more than nine out of 10 people believe it is important to have nutrition information panels on food packaging. For us the obvious next step is supporting ANZFA to make sure labels are understood by all shoppers. It's an industry role to ensure the information is used to make informed nutrition choices ," says Mrs Stirling.

"To do this we have written Food Labels - Know What You Eat, a guide which explains food labels and highlights to shoppers the nutrients they should look for.

"People can request the information kits and other dietary information via our freecall number or website. We want to get this helpful information to as many people as possible."

ANZFA Spokesperson Lydia Buchtmann has applauded Sanitarium's initiative and welcomed its support in undertaking consumer education.

"This is a widespread and important health campaign and we are pleased to be working with Sanitarium in educating as many New Zealanders as possible," said Ms Buchtmann.

The Sanitarium/NFO CM Research Food Labelling study (conducted in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) shows that female shoppers are particularly concerned about the nutritional content of food and that 60% of all shoppers claim to read the food labels all or most of the time when purchasing a product for the first time.

For a copy of Sanitarium's Food Labels - Know What You Eat education pack please call the Company's freecall number 0800 100 257 or visit the website at

For further information please contact Kim Stirling 09 625 0700 or 021 761 089 or Sarah Williams (NBPR) 09 913 1830 or 021 928125 or Anna Robins 04 917 0373 or 021 248 3251.


Sanitarium/NFO CM Research Food Labelling Study

November 12, 2001

* 91% of main household shoppers are aware of Nutrition Information Panels on food products.

* 67% of main household shoppers say they pay a lot or a fair amount of attention to the nutritional content of the food they purchase.

* Both males and females place importance on nutritional content of food, with 69% of females and 60% of males saying they pay a lot or a fair amount of attention to it.

* 94% of main household shoppers believe it is important to have Nutrition Information Panels on food products.

* 83% of female main house hold shoppers rate displaying Nutrition Information Panels on food packaging as of very high importance compared to 70% of males.

* 60% of main household shoppers claim to read the Nutrition Information Panel when they purchase a product for the first time. However, males are significantly more likely to not read the nutritional labels on food when buying for the first time compared to females.

* 22% of main household shoppers claim to understand all of the information on nutritional labels, with 53% claiming to understand most of the information.

* 87% of main grocery shoppers would find information explaining Nutrition Information Panels helpful.

* Female shoppers are more likely to find information on how to read nutritional information panels helpful than males at 88% compared to 79%.

* 78% of grocery shoppers support the idea of Sanitarium providing an information helpline where you can contact a nutritionist - females are significantly more likely to find this very helpful compared to males (49% c.f. 32%).

* Study consisted of telephone interview of 300 main household shoppers in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch between the 29/10/01 and 7/11/01

For further information please contact Sarah Williams or Anna Robins (NBPR) on 09 913 1830 or 04 917 0373.

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