Regulatory: Chile | Study reveals that Food Law has no significant effect on chocolate or candy consumption

The Food Law was enacted in Chile in 2015 and came into force in 2016.  This law seeks to provide clearer and intelligible information to consumers regarding nutritional contribution of food and beverages.  As a result, the warning sign “High content” was introduced in packaging so that consumers could be knowledgeable of when products contained added ingredients.

Two years after the law was signed, the University of Chile carried out a research project named “EFFECTS OF FOOD LABELING IN CONSUMER BEHAVIOR”.  This research looked into how the incorporation of this labelling could modify consumer choices.  Accordingly, changes made during 2016 to food packaging regulation in Chile were analyzed, requiring high-calorie, high-sugar, high-saturated fat and high-sodium content products to carry black labels in the shape of a “stop sign”.  The study was carried out in collaboration with a supermarket chain in Chile and measures consumer spending on products in categories such as Yogurts, Desserts, Cereals, Cookies, Chocolates, Snacks, Drinks and Juices as well as non-processed food categories like Produce, Water and Baked Goods, using consumer sale receipts.

The results of the investigation showed that the Law generated a decrease in spending on products with a label, varying approximately between 15% and 31% in Chocolate-Candy, Snacks and Beverages.  In sweetened Juices, the labels imposed by the Law generated a decrease in the consumption of labeled products between 17% and 60%.  On the other hand, the impact on spending on products that end up being labeled but that at the time of purchase may or may not have a label, varies between 3% and 21% for Snacks, Beverages and Juices, while the Chocolate-Candy category lacked any significant effect, given not many important options lacking labeling were found.[1]

Carlos Noton, a researcher at Instituto Milenio MIPP (in Spanish), pointed out that for the end consumer it is easier to choose a product when she is able to compare it with others in the market or able to identify any health risks.

Original Source in Spanish:

Sebastián Andrés, Araya Aburto; Efectos del etiquetado de alimentos en el comportamiento de los consumidores; Tesis para optar al grado de Magíster en Economía Aplicada; Santiago De Chile; 2017

  • Profesor guía: Carlos Noton Norambuena

[1] [1] Sebastián Andrés, Araya Aburto; Efectos del etiquetado de alimentos en el comportamiento de los consumidores; pp 30