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Understanding NI Consumer Needs Around Food Labelling


<p>"The overall aim of the research was to gather evidence from consumers in Northern Ireland about their understanding of retail food labelling information when purchasing food, how this influences their behaviour and their concerns and priorities around labelling information. More specifically, the objectives were to: A. Explore consumer awareness, understanding and views of retail food labelling and how this currently affects purchasing decisions. Specifically the research explores the following components of labelling: i. Country of origin ii. Allergen information (including precautionary allergen labelling) iii. Nutrition information iv. Products on promotions v. Instructions for use vi. Date of minimum durability (use by or best before) B. Understanding consumer views about the importance of information on labels. C. Provide insight around the drivers of consumer views and sources of any misconceptions/misunderstandings. D. Explore any issues regarding the user-friendliness of food labels in relation to font size, colour, layout and language. E. Provide a baseline understanding of consumer knowledge and understanding of labelling and support the FSA’s ability to provide future consumer education and support campaign around labelling that meets consumer needs. In order to achieve the aims and objectives, a mixed-method approach was undertaken comprising qualitative research to explore current knowledge, attitudes and perceptions in detail and quantitative research to establish measures for each of the objectives with a larger sample of consumers. Stage 1: qualitative research – focus groups and accompanied shops The qualitative research comprised of: 8 x 1.5 hour focus groups of 8 people each, across 4 locations in Northern Ireland with a total of 64 participants. In the focus groups participants were presented with a range of stimuli food packaging and asked to prioritise information. 8 x accompanied shops (4 x online shoppers and 4 x in-store shoppers) followed by face-to-face interviews with these individuals. These helped to understand the drivers of decision making in depth as it was important to observe the decision making process first hand - i.e. the customer journey leading up to the point of purchase in this instance. Participants were observed doing a ‘normal shop’ and a follow-up interview of around 45 minutes was then conducted to help understand their purchasing decisions and use of labelling information across their shop. Participants were recruited to include a mix of those who primarily do their shopping online and those who primarily shop in supermarkets (conducting both large weekly shops and smaller more regular shops) and included a mix of: Demographic variables – including a mix of socioeconomic groups, age and life-stage (e.g. younger/older children at home; adult children out of home) Whether people suffered from allergies All research participants recruited had primary/joint responsibility for their household shop. Stage 2: quantitative research – using the FSA panel A 10 minute questionnaire was developed which was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 201 Northern Ireland consumers from the FSA Consumer Panel. This questionnaire aimed to uncover: Consumer awareness of food labelling Use of food labelling when making purchasing decisions Perceptions of which information is most important to include on labels. The online survey was conducted with a representative cross-section of consumers. This was monitored by collecting house and demographic information for every panellist. The data was weighted by age, gender, whether participants were responsible for their household shops and whether they were cooking or preparing foods for someone with an allergy. This data was then analysed alongside the qualitative data to cross-reference findings across the phases, ultimately integrating both phases of the research to provide holistic, robust insight into participant views."</p>

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