Consumer Craving Vs Food La­bel Warn­ing

The Economic Times - - Breaking Ideas -

The enu­mer­a­tion of amount of salt, sugar, ar­ti­fi­cial colour and flavour en­hancers on pack­ag­ing – cou­pled with dire warn­ings about the con­se­quences of ex­ces­sive con­sump­tion of a range of com­mon food­stuff – never re­ally scare too many peo­ple off. There­fore the plan by Mars Foods to cau­tion buy­ers not to eat some of its Ital­ian sauces and pas­tas “more than once a week” prom­ises in­ter­est­ing rev­e­la­tions about hu­man psy­chol­ogy. Buy­ers gen­er­ally re­gard con­tent ta­bles and health prog­nos­ti­ca­tions with vary­ing de­grees of in­ter­est and scep­ti­cism. But when a pro­ducer it­self im­plies that cer­tain items can be detri­men­tal to health – al­beit in large quan­ti­ties – will the usual hu­man in­sou­ciance pre­vail? The com­pany is clearly hop­ing its good in­ten­tions will make grate­ful con­sumers flock to the many other prod­ucts un­der its um­brella that will be marked all right for ev­ery­day use, pre­sum­ably with the same al­tru­is­tic zeal. It could just as well re­sult in con­sumers get­ting spooked by such dis­arm­ing hon­esty, lead­ing them to look askance at any­thing sold in jars or pack­ets by that com­pany or any other. It may be far­fetched, how­ever, to pre­dict a time when a bot­tle of car­bonara sauce will be seen as the equiv­a­lent of a pack of cig­a­rettes– com­plete with scary pic­to­rial warn­ings – but con­sumed with the same in­formed dis­re­gard.

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