Food Claims Baffle Shoppers

ORLANDO, Fla. American consumers are so overwhelmed by strident and conflicting claims about whether certain foods offer a health benefit, that many are reduced to ignoring all such information and relying on common sense. That's the opinion of Irene Rosenfeld, chief executive officer, Kraft Foods, who spoke at last week's Food Marketing Institute Midwinter Executive Conference here. She said information

ORLANDO, Fla. — American consumers are so overwhelmed by strident and conflicting claims about whether certain foods offer a health benefit, that many are reduced to ignoring all such information and relying on common sense.

That's the opinion of Irene Rosenfeld, chief executive officer, Kraft Foods, who spoke at last week's Food Marketing Institute Midwinter Executive Conference here. She said information gathered by Kraft shows that consumers are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of health-related claims for food.

Moreover, they are confused about by the fact that mixed messages are issued: At one point, a food is said to be a contributor to good health, and not long thereafter the opposite claim is posited. That happens enough that many consumers start to view health-related information as little more than a fad that may as well be ignored.

Rosenfeld asserted that the solution is for industry segments to voluntarily collaborate so that clear and consistent information is presented on packages, in stores and in advertising messages. Consumers can then make informed choices about whether they wish to consume a certain product.