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08/05/2021

Consumer survey: Food brands need to be more transparent online about allergens

A technology company surveyed consumers with food allergies, finding they don’t trust online information and need more information.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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Private brand and branded food producers need to be more transparent about allergens, particularly online, per a recent consumer survey.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports there are 32 million people in the United States impacted by food allergies and store brand products can aid those consumers through better labeling on products and being more transparent on product and brand pages online, according to Foodspace Technology and its Consumer Allergen Survey 2021.

The Boston-based e-commerce, labeling and technology company surveyed U.S. consumers suffering from food allergies to learn more about how they shopped and to learn more about their concerns when digesting allergen information from brands.

49% of consumers with allergies surveyed find it difficult to access the full-ingredient list online.

Foodspace’s data showed consumers want more information and greater transparency about allergens, particularly when shopping online. For example, nearly half of the respondents said they often have difficulty accessing the full ingredient list, nutritional information or allergen information when shopping online. A third said they had concerns over the accuracy of the information found online.

A respondent was quoted saying, “I just don’t trust that all the info is there and correct. It’s hard to tell.”

Of the consumers Foodspace Technology surveyed, 87% had more than one allergy; nearly 60% had one or more allergies outside of the top nine food allergens, including sesame; and 42% of the consumers do shop for items online.

The study further found that consumers are seeking information that goes beyond just the most common food allergens and they want easier access to the full ingredients list online as well as additional allergen information online.

On packaging or on brand and product pages, the study said the consumers did find allergen-related symbols, certifications and visuals are “somewhat useful,” but the most commonly used source of information for the shoppers is a full-on view of the ingredients list, which can be hard to read online or not fully accessible.