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Food Packaging and Perception

How labels and package designs change the way we think and the foods we choose.

Woman looking at food packaging

Beverage and food packaging can have a big impact on consumers’ perception of product healthfulness—and the likelihood they will place an item in their shopping carts.

An investigation entitled, I Believe It Is Healthy—Impact of Extrinsic Product Attributes in Demonstrating Healthiness of Functional Food Products, published in Nutrients, should catch the eye of manufacturers. A team of researchers used images of a ready-to-drink smoothie product to determine that the following food packaging attributes contribute to the perceived healthfulness of the beverage:

  • a “with natural ingredients” or “organic” claim (these were more credible than a specific health claim)
  • the claim “26 g protein per serving”
  • boasting about a nutrient level in the product
  • a nutrition claim such as “no added sugar”
  • a statement of domestic origin
  • a nutrition label that’s column-shaped instead of round or humanoid
  • white-blue or white-green label color (instead of white-red)

So ask yourself this: Would a bag of American-made “all-natural” and “sugar-free” potato chips—that trumpets its extra protein—and is all dressed up in healthy-looking white-green labeling be enough for you to buy in?

See also: Food Brand Names Change Perceptions

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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