24 Aug 2012 --- Tesco has announced, following new customer research, its support for a hybrid labelling system that combines its existing Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) with the “traffic light” colour coding system.
The research showed that customers remain happy with GDAs and continue to favour them over traffic light colour coding, which used alone does not provide the detail customers need to make an informed decision about the products they buy. However, the research also showed that customers prefer the combination of traffic light colours, which give simple at-a-glance guidance, and GDAs, which give accurate and meaningful information. Customers also want a consistent approach to labelling across the industry and Tesco is committed to working with the Government, NGOs, public health organisations, other retailers and our supply chain to try to achieve this.
This evolution in Tesco’s approach reflects the changing and increasingly sophisticated demands of customers who want clear, accessible and meaningful information to enable them to make informed choices.
Philip Clarke, Tesco’s Chief Executive said: “Tesco has led the way in giving shoppers clear information about the food they eat and was the first retailer to put nutritional information on the front of our packs in 2005 when we rolled out our Guideline Daily Amount labels.”
“We always listen to our customers and they have told us that by combining our popular GDA labels with traffic light colour coding we can make it even easier for them to make informed and healthy choices about the food they buy.
“We are committed to doing what is right for our customers and therefore have decided to bring together the distinct benefits of GDAs and traffic lights. We know customers are looking for a consistent approach, and intend to work with government, health bodies, other retailers and manufacturers to deliver this as soon as possible.”
The news was welcomed by Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley, NGOs and public health groups including the British Heart Foundation.
Peter Hollins, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “The British Heart Foundation, the nation’s heart charity, congratulates Tesco on this decision. This action by the UK’s largest supermarket will help millions of busy shoppers to make healthier eating choices and could have a real impact on people’s diets.
“We hope others will build on Tesco's initiative and commit to working with Government to introduce consistent and easy to understand food labelling – including traffic light colours – across the country.”
Tesco commissioned research by Penn Schoen and Berland to inform its response to the Government’s consultation on Front of Pack nutrition labelling. PSB conducted a quantitative online survey of 1,002 UK adults aged 18+. Quotas were set to ensure a representative sample and data were weighted to the profile of the population. Fieldwork was conducted between 9th and 16th July 2012. It also conducted six focus groups with primary and secondary Tesco shoppers between 10th and 12th July 2012.
Diabetes UK welcomed the decision by Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket. Barbara Young, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said, "This decision by Tesco to use a traffic light system on all its food labels is great news for consumers, and will help give millions of people across the country the information they need to make healthier choices and lead happier lives.”
"We welcome this move because evidence shows that the traffic light system works help shoppers make healthy choices when buying food and this could be an important milestone in the effort to reduce the number of people in the UK who are overweight or obese.”
"With around a quarter of adults in the UK classed as obese, and so at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes as well as other chronic conditions, it is important that we have food labelling that makes it as easy as possible for people to make healthy choices."
CASH have campaigned for over five years for the introduction of a single front of pack nutrition labelling scheme which includes traffic light colour coding. The group called it “fantastic news for consumers, as it means the majority of the UK supermarkets will be soon using traffic light colours, making healthier choices easier.”
“We are aiming to reduce population average salt intakes to below 6g a day, a target we are still a long way from reaching” says Professor Graham MacGregor of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine. “Absurdly, there are currently at least 6 different ways of labelling salt1. Whilst so much salt is still hidden in everyday foods such as bread, processed meats, cheese and ready-prepared sauces, the only way customers can try and eat less than 6g salt a day is by being able to read the labels and choose lower salt options.”
In response to the news, Andrew Lansley has been quoted as saying; “working with industry, not against them, can quickly bring about changes to benefit our health”. However in this case, due to a complete lack of direction from the government, labelling has been in chaos for years causing great confusion for those looking to improve their health. Tesco have at last taken matters into their own hands and decided to improve their labelling.
“This is great news for all shoppers who are looking after their and their family’s health.” Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director for CASH. “It’s about time Tesco’s acknowledged their responsibility to public health and improved their labelling, let’s just hope it is ‘every little helps’ and not ‘too little, too late’.”