Consumers' attitudes towards nutrition labeling on food packages and in restaurants in China

Yindong Xu, Purdue University


This study was designed 1) to examine whether Chinese consumers are holding similar attitudes towards nutrition labeling on food packages and in restaurants, involving their perceptions of the importance of nutrition labeling, their frequency of using the nutrition information and their preferences of nutrient content and additional nutrition information and 2) to analyze how a variety of factors, including consumers' knowledge level and demographic characteristics influence consumers' attitudes. A total of one hundred and fifty paper-based questionnaires were collected outside a Wal-Mart in the Yangpu District, Shanghai, China during four different times in one month. The gathered data was tested by several statistical analyses such as descriptive, paired t-test, paired proportion test, simple linear regression, multiple linear regression and multinomial logistic model. The results indicate that in general consumers perceived nutrition labeling as fairly important for both food packages and restaurants; however, their frequency of actually using the information was much lower in both settings. Consumers would like to see protein, fat and cholesterol most for the listed nutrient content both on packaged food and in restaurants, and their preferred additional nutrition information was the nutrient claims. Consumers showed similar attitudes for nutrition labeling on food packages and in restaurants concerning their frequency of using the nutrition information, their preference for nutrient content and additional nutrition information, while they perceived package labeling as little bit more important than that of restaurant menu labeling. More than half of the respondents favored mandatory regulation for restaurant labeling, while a majority of them thought all types of restaurants should be mandated. Fast food chains were ranked to be the most urgently in need of mandatory regulation and even if nutrition labeling was not required, respondents would like International chain restaurants to voluntarily provide the information. Consumers' nutrition knowledge level was determined as influential for consumers' attitudes towards nutrition labeling on food packaging but not for that in restaurants. In addition, among all demographic factors, age, marital status, educational level and special dietary habit appeared to be significantly related to consumers' attitudes towards nutrition labeling on food packages and in restaurants. This research contributes to a better understanding of Chinese consumers' attitudes towards nutrition labeling, especially since restaurant labeling is a new topic in China. Linking restaurant labeling to food package labeling, this research offers reference for the future legislation of mandatory restaurant labeling, and provides support for nutrition information propagation of nutritional, medical and educational institutions.




Almanza, Purdue University.

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