Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

Awareness of Food Labeling among Consumers in Groceries in Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates

Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

Awareness of Food Labeling among Consumers in Groceries in Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates

Article excerpt

Abstract

Over the last few decades, the prevalent UAE food retail industry setup showed the changing food consumption patterns of the UAE population. Diet-related health problems are increasing in UAE as a result of obesity and other factors. Therefore, nutritional labeling becomes important to provide consumers with information that can be used to make informed and healthier food choices. 1200 consumers (54.3% were women) were interviewed while shopping at various grocery stores in AL-Ain city; UAE to assess their knowledge; attitudes and practices using a questionnaire. Consumer's responses showed general awareness for reading the food label (89.5%); however; they read basic information like production and expiry dates. In summary; increased diet related diseases in UAE may be related to increased consumption of pre-packaged foods and inadequate awareness on use of food labeling information. This study has an educative health and nutrition implications to help consumers make an informed choice when buying pre-packaged foods.

Keywords: Food labeling, UAE, Consumer's knowledge/awareness, Nutrition, Health, Pre-packaged foods

1. Introduction

Food labels are found to be a very important public health tool that is used to promote a balanced diet; and hence enhance the public health and wellbeing. Food labels information assists consumers to better understand the nutritional value of food and enables them to compare the nutritional values of similar food products and to make healthy informed food choices based on the relevant nutrition information (AL Tamimi & company, 2004). In addition; it is particularly useful for people who are on special diets (e.g. people suffering from diabetes or high blood lipid) to select suitable foods for their health conditions. As consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the relationship between diet and disease; their demand for nutrition information increases.

Most of the pre-packaged food products; imported and locally manufactured; are now provided with nutrition information on their food labels. There are many important diet related -public health problems and diseases such as poor nutrition; obesity high blood pressure; cancers, diabetes; osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. The World Health Organization reported that dietary factors accounted for approximately 30% of cancers in industrialized countries. Therefore, nutrients are vital to humans for growth and maintenance of good health (WHO/FAO, 2003).

Globalization, which has its impact on consumers and their countries all over the world, required necessary actions from countries to prove that their manufactured products; including food; are able to compete in the open market. Food labeling encourages the food manufacturers to improve the nutrient profile of their products beside; the trade can formulate the relevant marketing strategies to attract potential consumers. This will result in a benefiting situation for both; the consumers and the manufacturers (AMEinfo.com, 2008).

Cost-benefit analyses suggest that saving in health care costs is relatively greater than the costs incurred by mandatory labeling. Overseas experience has shown that nutrition labeling can have positive impact on food consumption patterns; save healthcare costs and type 2 diabetes is increasing each year. With the introduction of mandatory nutrition labeling many lives could be saved each year (Hawkes, 2004).

The use and impact of the current labeling reflect that consumers perceive themselves as knowledgeable regarding its use. The parts of the label read most frequently were the calorie; fat; sugar; sodium and fiber contents. They use attributes such as serving size; ingredient list; the % daily values; health and nutrient claims; price; and brands when making their food purchasing decisions (McLean, 2001; Whitney & Rolfes, 2005). Many consumers feel confident that they understand how to read labels and prefer using a food label than relying on their own knowledge (Godwin et al. …

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