Food companies with annual sales of at least $10 million began following the federal government’s updated nutrition facts labeling rules on Jan. 1. Since the majority of consumers, nearly 90%, do read the labels, it’s an important information source for them, according to The NPD Group.
The top two items consumers look for on the labels are sugars and calories, both of which had an update with the new labeling rules.
Fifty-seven percent of consumers who read nutrition facts labels look for sugars, and 45% of adults say they look at the nutrition facts label to find information on calories, according to NPD’s Health Aspirations and Behavioral Tracking Service.
On the new label, calories are listed in a larger font. If the entire package of food can be consumed in one sitting there is a column showing the nutrition facts for one serving and another column with the calories and facts for the entire contents. Sugars now include the sugars added in processing.
Sodium and protein content follow sugars and calories as top items consumers look for on the label. The sodium content is the top item 38% of consumers look at, and 33% say they look for the amount of protein in the food.
While total fat and trans fat are important to a fair amount of people, there is little interest in saturated fat. Potassium is a new addition to the label because of its importance in a healthy diet. Nine percent of consumers say they read the label for potassium content, according to NPD.
“Consumers are interested in the content of the foods they eat and the nutrition facts label is their best source for this information,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “With most food companies working on the health profile of the foods they produce, the nutrition facts label provides them with the ability to showcase these improvements.”