Confusing Packaging Labels: Salt

Last week, NPR food blog The Salt published a story on low-sodium claims with a familiar theme: clear and meaningful on-package claims.

On-package sustainability claims are an exciting way to share our work with consumers. The Sustainable Packaging Coalition explores claims through education in the Essentials of Sustainable Packaging course, the Meaningful Marketing Claims Industry Leadership Committee, and the How2Recycle on package recycling label. However, getting the correct message across to consumers can be a challenge.

A study by the University of Toronto showed that on-package claims for low sodium, disease prevention, or lowering blood pressure improved overall consumer perception of a product. The study polled 506 Canadians, one third of which had high blood pressure.

The How2Recycle label is seeing some of the same trends. According to the How2Recycle web survey, 80% of respondents think more positively of companies that participate in How2Recycle. Consumers note appreciation of transparency, use of recyclable materials, and belief that the participating company has broader sustainability motivations.

What I found interesting about this study is that these claims created a halo effect of other health benefits of the product. Not only did consumers have a more positive perception of the product, but some consumers also (incorrectly) equated the claims with improving weight loss, constipation, and diabetes. The article’s final observation is that although companies are reducing sodium, they are weary of advertising for fear of negative consumer perception.

Read more from The Salt, including an article on coffee certification labels.


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