Data collected in recent years has shown an enormous growth in overall consumer health consciousness. Not even 20 years ago, soda sales were skyrocketing and Americans began opting for packaged foods as opposed to the homemade meals they used to so often make.

This led to the development of serious health problems across the United States including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Now the food industry is facing a new era of consumers, and these consumers are demanding healthier options. This demand has led to an explosion of new products and offerings to attract the attention of these health conscious individuals. Modern day grocery shelves are becoming flooded with foods marketed as “low fat”, “gluten free” and “non GMO”.

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This is putting pressure on food marketers to appeal to this new health conscious market to gain an edge over their competitors.In 2016, the Nielson Global Health and Wellness Foundation released study findings that reflected this movement towards healthier eating (as cited in Watson, 2016, p. 1). The study specifically found that, “Younger consumers are far more concerned about everything from food ingredients, genetically modified food and organic food than previous generations,” (2016). 41% of the young millennials surveyed claimed that they would spend more money if a product was healthier.

However, of all participants aged 35 and older, only 26% would consider spending more money on health food products. This increased interest in healthy eating demonstrates just how relevant the focus of this study is, and how valuable the information can be to food marketers. Since consumers are beginning to care more about healthy food options, companies should respond accordingly. Research has demonstrated that the use of health claims on product packaging can be helpful in attracting the attention of these health-conscious shoppers.

According to the US Census Bureau (2016), American Millennial with 83.1 million people represent more than one-quarter of the nation’s population. Millennial, are born between the years 1982 till 2000. In comparison to preceding generations, Millennial show a great deal of variety, as they are well educated, knowledgeable, career orientated and confident (Nowak, Thach, & Olsen, 2006; Howe & Strauss, 2007). Millennials, who are now young adults, are among the group noted to eat away from home, relying heavily on fast food for their nourishment.

Furthermore, studies indicate that young adult 2 spending on fast food far outweighs spending on aspects such as higher education and electronics (Harris, Stiles & Durocher, 2011). According to French, Harnack, & Jeffery (2000), an increase in body weight is associated with frequent consumption of fast food with high fat and calorie levels. Since Millennial have shown to have vast spending power (Solomon, 2014), and with their predilection for convenience foods it may be assumed that they may be consuming larger quantities of fast food, which may lead to obesity with varying reasons such as age, ethnicity, and economic status contributing to fast food consumption.In Indian context, the perception of packaged foods is changing among consumers as there has been a significant rise in the convenience, availability and affordability of such products across the country. With the onset of information sharing through various sources like social and printed media, consumers are more informed about the benefits and downsides of packaged foods, leading to better informed decisions while consuming products. Indian market is flooded with packaged foods all over.

Its consumption is growing over the years.India’s packaged food business has grown manifold, and it is estimated to grow to $50 billion by 2017 from $32 billion at present.The consumption of packaged food is much higher in the urban areas, especially metros, where life is fastpaced, attracting a lot more companies to launch new types of products and variants.

India’s packaged food market is characterized by a large divide between urban, semi-urban and rural consumers. Urban areas account for 80 percent of the demand for all packaged food, and the main packaged food include bakery and dairy products, canned and frozen processed food, ready-to-eat meals, diet snacks, processed meat, health products and drinks.”There has been a major shift in food habits in metropolitan cities. About 79 percent of households prefer to have instant food due to steep rise in double incomes, standard of living and convenience,” – Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) survey.The Indian consumers have been responding to changes in quality of food intake and are becoming more conscious about nutritional diet, health, and food safety issues (Deininger and Sur2007). In India, the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA) and Fruit Products Order (FPO) under the Essential Commodities Act are two regulatory arrangements which primarily deal with officially recognized ingredient limits and safety standards of food items. Food labelling standards and requirement are not very rigorous and are governed by both these regulatory provisions as well as by the Packaged Commodities Rules (PCR) under Weights and Measures Act. While the Indian Government is deliberating the law on food labelling, it is important to know the understanding and usage of these labels by Indian consumers and how they view the most prevalent format of food labelling, Under such scenario where government regulation on nutritional content of food labelling is not very stringent and/ or is vague, this study analyses usage and understanding of labels by consumers in order to inform the future policy debate This study seeks to build upon research and uncover changes in consumer perceptions related to nutritional information made on packaged food packaging.

It is crucial to take a look at these claims as they relate to a consumer’s purchase decisions, and assess how the market is changing. A review of the literature on this topic and an overview of the study design will be outlined in the following sections of the paper.  LITERATURE REVIEWHistory: It wasn’t until certain health issues became increasingly widespread that researchers began to look into the effects of a poor diet. First administered in 1978 (as cited in Ippolito and Mathios, 1991, p. 2), Health and Diet surveys were distributed to thousands of Americans to learn more about their food choices and eating habits.

These surveys measured consumer knowledge of food as a factor of their health. In 1985, another survey was released by the FDA to examine 24-hour food intake data from thousands of women across the country (1991). This survey was performed before health claims became popular, and again in later years after food packaging became saturated with nutritional claims. The results showed a significant increase in consumer purchases of certain food items, such as those marketed as “high in fiber. However, the use of nutritional claims was met with a great deal of backlash. Some people were concerned that larger corporations could use these claims to mislead consumers into eating food that wasn’t actually healthy for them (Parker, 2003, p. 4). Sarah Campos (a1), Juliana Doxey (a1) and David Hammond  conducted a systematic review and research on consumer use and understanding of nutrition labels, as well as the impact of labelling on dietary habits.

Research highlights that nutrition labels are perceived as a highly credible source of information and many consumers use nutrition labels to guide their selection of food products. Evidence also shows a consistent link between the use of nutrition labels and healthier diets. However, the use of labels varies considerably across subgroups, with lower use among children, adolescents and older adults who are obese. Research also highlights challenges in terms of consumer understanding and appropriate use of labelling information.Siva K. Balasubramanian, Catherine Cole (2002): Consumers’ Search and Use of Nutrition Information :The Challenge and Promise of the Nutrition Labelling and Education Act. Journal of Marketing: July 2002, Vol. 66, No.

3, pp. 112-127. In this paper, author discusses how different consumers search for nutrition information and how NLEA act actually impacts the buying decision.Scott B. Keller, Mike Landry, Jeanne Olson, Anne M. Velliquette, Scot Burton and J.

Craig Andrews:The Effects of Nutrition Package Claims, Nutrition Facts Panels, and Motivation to Process Nutrition Information on Consumer Product EvaluationsThe authors examine the effects on nutrition and product evaluations of nutrition claims made (e.g., “99% fat free;” “low in calories”) on a product package, product nutrition value levels, and enduring motivation to process nutrition information. Enduring motivation is shown to moderate the effects of product nutrition value on consumer evaluations. Also, nutrition claims interact with product nutrition value in affecting consumer perceptions of manufacturer credibility. Given the availability of nutrient levels in the Nutrition Facts panel on the back of the mock package, nutrition claims on the front of the package generally did not affect positively consumers’ overall product and purchase intention evaluations.

The authors discuss some implications of these findings, suggestions for further research, and study limitations.PinyaSilayoi (Department of Packaging Technology, Faculty of Agro?Industry, Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand) , Mark Speece (School of Business, Public Administration and Information Systems, University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau, Alaska, USAThe importance of packaging attributes: a conjoint analysis approachThe importance of packaging design and the role of packaging as a vehicle for consumer communication and branding are necessarily growing. To achieve communication goals effectively, knowledge about consumer psychology is important so that manufacturers understand consumer response to their packages. This paper aims to investigate this issueThe conjoint results indicate that perceptions about packaging technology (portraying convenience) play the most important role overall in consumer likelihood to buy.The science on front-of-package food labels – Kristy L Hawley (a1), Christina A Roberto (a2), Marie A Bragg (a2), Peggy J Liu (a2) ..

. Reviewed studies examined consumer preferences, understanding and use of different labelling systems as well as label impact on purchasing patterns and industry product reformulation.The findings indicate that the Multiple Traffic Light system has most consistently helped consumers identify healthier products; however, additional research on different labelling systems’ abilities to influence consumer behaviour is needed.Figuring out food labels: Young adults’ understanding of nutritional information presented on food labels is inadequateSharf M1, Sela R, Zentner G, Shoob H, Shai I, Stein-Zamir C.

Nutritional labelling of packaged foods, mandated by law, includes details of the food content and composition – information that can affect individual and public lifestyle decisions and health status. This inadequate comprehension of food labels represents a missed opportunity to provide essential information necessary for healthy food choices at the individual level. A combination of strategies is necessary, including improving food labels (simplification and standardization) combined with targeted educational programsJohn C. Kozup, Elizabeth H. Creyer, Scot Burton (2003) Making Healthful Food Choices: The Influence of Health Claims and Nutrition Information on Consumers’ Evaluations of Packaged Food Products and Restaurant Menu Items- Journal of Marketing: April 2003, Vol. 67, No. 2, pp.

19-34The authors report the results of three experiments that address the effects of health claims and nutrition information placed on restaurant menus and packaged food labels. The results indicate that when favorable nutrition information or health claims are presented, consumers have more favorable attitudes toward the product, nutrition attitudes, and purchase intentions, and they perceive risks of heart disease and stroke to be lower. The nutritional context in which a restaurant menu item is presented moderates the effects of both nutrition information and a health claim on consumer evaluations, which suggests that alternative (i.e., non market) menu items serve as a frame of reference against which the target menu item is evaluated.