Clued-up consumers shun fatty foods

SALES HAVE plummeted by up to 40% on some "unhealthy" food products since supermarkets introduced food labels which reveal their salt, fat and sugar content.

A report by a food industry specialist states that within two months of Tesco introducing nutrition labels in April last year, it was selling 26%-37% fewer prawn mayonnaise sandwiches, and sales of ready meals such as steak rosti bake and chilli beef noodles were also significantly down.

The labels on the front of packs tell consumers what proportion of their guideline daily allowance (GDA) of sugar, salt and fat is represented by each item.

Jeff Stent, an analyst from Citigroup investment bank who conducted the research, suggested that some foods, for example pork pies and meat pasties, simply cannot be made into healthy products.

Stent compared sales at Tesco in the eight weeks before nutrition labelling was introduced with sales in the eight weeks afterwards.

Sales of Chicken and Bacon Pasta fell by almost half once shoppers saw that a pack contained 58% of the daily salt allowance.

Food Standard Agency's (FSA) recommended front-of-pack 'traffic-light' colour-coded labelling system has been adopted by only a few chains to date. It indicates levels of salt, fat and sugar per 100g and provides consumers with nutritional value and potential health risks to their diet.

Figures at Sainsbury's, the first major multiple to introduce the FSA's labelling, show that sales of Chicken Madras at Sainsbury's have fallen by 40% since it began using the labelling scheme 15 months ago. Sales of lower-fat foods are reported to have rocketed.

Chief executive of Sainsbury's, Justin King, said: "It is influencing our thinking. If we make our products more healthy, more people are buying them."

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