Green? Organic? Food Labels Sway Buyers
Two Cornell University food-packaging studies suggest labels can be deceptive. In the first, researchers learned that shoppers view foods with green nutrition labels as healthier than they really are. Even though an icon (similar to those on the front of cereal boxes) displayed the same number of calories, participants believed candy bars with green labels were healthier than those with red or white labels. A second study looked at the effect the word “organic” had on people’s perceptions. Researchers displayed pairs of identical foods—yogurts, cookies, and potato chip bags—of which one in each pair was labeled organic. When asked to evaluate the products’ healthfulness, participants said the “organic” foods were lower in calories and more nutritious and tasted lower in fat. What’s more, they were willing to spend more on the organic items.
Sources: Health Communication, published online Feb. 27, 2013; Food Quality and Preference, published online Feb. 9, 2013