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Shoppers Want Retailers to Help Combat Food Labeling Confusion: Study

Data from Spoon Guru shows that those with diet restrictions often find grocery shopping daunting
Photograph: Shutterstock

A staggering number of consumers have mistakenly purchased products that do not align with their dietary requirements, often as a result of poor labeling, and many shoppers believe that retailers should play a part in improving ingredient clarity, according to new research from Spoon Guru. 

While more than half of the 76% of U.S. consumers who have unintentionally consumed food restricted from their diets said it was because they were served the wrong item as an error by bar or restaurant staff, 37% named poor food labeling as the culprit. 

“With an increase of U.S. consumers adopting exclusion diets, whether due to an allergy or intolerance or simply just a lifestyle choice, there is a clear need to make food discovery much more inclusive," said Markus Stripf, co-founder and CEO of Spoon Guru, saying that 86% of study participants believe that "retailers should go above and beyond the current regulations to improve ingredient clarity.

"The general feeling among U.S. consumers is [that] on-trade and off-trade retailers [should] take more accountability where food labeling is concerned," he said. 

As such, 30% of those surveyed said they found the usually routine task of grocery shopping daunting. Respondents between the ages of 25 and 44 who had dietary restrictions struggled the most when food shopping, with vegans having the most trouble, 

Forty-one percent of vegans and vegetarians found it difficult to match products with their dietary restrictions, and 45% of vegans said they struggle with vague or nonexistent food labeling. 

Stripf shared that the data revealed that 76% of consumers surveyed believe the use of technology will help to combat the problem of poor food labeling.

"While there are a lot of learnings and discussions to be had about how to make food discovery and shopping accessible, the great news is that more and more food businesses like restaurants and retailers are open to using smart technology as a platform to cater for people who have specific dietary requirements," he said. 

The data was based on a survey of 2,000 U.S. adults who follow a lifestyle diet or have a food intolerance or allergy.

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