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Comparative practices of food label claims from US, EU and selected Southeast Asian countries

May O. Lwin (Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 9 November 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to fulfil gaps in knowledge regarding food packaging practices in Southeast Asia by examining the informational content of food labels on a variety of packaged foods.

Design/methodology/approach

Using local and imported food products found in supermarkets in Singapore, a quantitative content analysis of food label claims in a wide range of packaged food products was conducted. A codebook was developed to capture the attributes of the food labels and claims, content categories, product names, food categories, sources of manufacture and countries of brand origin. The three main regions of analysis of country of manufacture were the USA, European Union (EU) and Southeast Asia.

Findings

Analysis of food products manufactured in five Southeast Asian countries revealed the presence of various claims in food products, and a number of specific claims exceeded the percentages found in products from the USA or EU. The results showed that a significant proportion of products from Southeast Asian countries display nutrient content and nutrient function claims, as well as general marketing claims and non-nutrient claims. However, there were variations in practice amongst the five Southeast Asian countries.

Research limitations/implications

The sample was limited in being collected from one geographic location. Future research needs to expand data collection both geographically and longitudinally.

Practical implications

The findings are valuable for the national health authorities in addressing policies on food package labelling, and homogenization efforts pertaining to regional/international labelling policies. These in turn could influence food marketing practices.

Social implications

The findings are useful in crafting educational programming and guidelines for health and nutrition education.

Originality/value

This research is the first to explore food labelling practices in multiple Southeast Asian countries and compare them cross-sectionally with EU and US practices.

Keywords

Citation

Lwin, M.O. (2015), "Comparative practices of food label claims from US, EU and selected Southeast Asian countries", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 7, pp. 530-541. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-10-2014-1191

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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