Consumer response to computerised nutritional information at the point-of-purchase in catering establishments.
Balfour, Donna S.
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BALFOUR, D.S. 1994. Consumer response to computerised nutritional information at the point-of-purchase in catering establishments. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.
Increased scientific understanding of the links between nutrition and health has led to a demand for more nutrition information to be made available to consumers. Nutrition information is widely available on supermarket products but is rarely found in catering establishments. This research involved the provision of nutrition information in canteens and restaurants and studied the effect on consumer meal choices. A study was designed to find the optimum visual method of displaying nutrition information. Eight nutritional formats were systematically tested on customers in a shopping centre food court. Graphical formats displaying nutrition information in relation to current dietary advice relayed the nutrition information significantly quicker than, and as accurately as, tabular displays. A database system was developed to provide nutrition information on menu items making up a selected meal. A program suite was designed to enable the creation of recipes and menus. The nutritional breakdown of a selected meal was displayed to the customer who was then given the opportunity to change their meal before that meal was acquired. All initial choices and subsequent changes were recorded for analysis. Surveys carried out in two canteen locations (n=694) revealed that a significant percentage of customers (16%) did make changes to their meal after viewing the nutritional information on their first choice. Those who did not change were, on average, making "healthy" choices of meal. Those who did change made second choices which were, on average, significantly lower in energy, saturated fatty acids and non-milk extrinsic sugars than their first selections. Overall "healthier" choices were made with the second selection which did not differ significantly from the nutritional content of the meals chosen by those respondents who had not wished to change. Further research is necessary to determine whether the intention to change a selected meal as demonstrated by this research would be carried through by the respondents to the actual food selection.