Do online grocers have a transparency problem?
Just over half (53 percent) of shoppers buying groceries online find it either challenging or extremely challenging to make sure a product meets their diet and wellness goals, according to recent research from Label Insight and FMI, the food industry association.
The survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers who shopped in-store and online for groceries the month prior found only 18 percent never run into challenges.
The majority of those who have adopted online grocery shopping (64 percent) were highly focused on buying products for diets or other health-related programs, either for themselves or other household members.
“Given how the grocery landscape has evolved due to COVID-19, customer expectations have reached new heights, especially when it comes to their focus on health and wellness,” said Tim Whiting, VP, marketing at Label Insight, in a statement.
A new university study from researchers analyzing 12 grocery store websites likewise found shortcomings in online information, including that 15 percent of the sites were missing the Nutrition Facts panel and ingredient statement required on product packaging.
Other findings of the study:
- The legibility of nutrition facts panels and ingredient statements varied drastically, with some being ranked as having “exceptional legibility” and others having “poor legibility.”
- Most stores offered the ability to filter search results by a nutrition-related food category, such as a search for gluten-free foods.
- No stores offered the ability to sort search results by a specific nutrition element, such as the milligrams of sodium per serving or per item.
Further research is planned on which nutrition information on online grocery shopping sites is lacking and the potential reasons for the gaps and their possible solutions.
A lack of uniformity online seems to be one challenge as some grocery sites attempt to mimic the experience of reading circulars and others do not. Fulfilling information needs beyond nutritional content is also necessary. A YouGov survey from last year found the most important factor when grocery shopping (offline and online) was cost, cited by 88 percent; followed in the top-five by ease of preparation, 76 percent; speed of preparation, 68 percent; fat content, 66 percent; and where it is sourced from, also 66 percent.
- STUDY: Two-thirds of omnichannel grocery shoppers are shopping with a diet or other health-related program in mind – Label Insight/FMI/PRNewswire
- Transparency Trends: Omnichannel Grocery Shopping from the Consumer Perspective – Label Insight/FMI
- How to Eat Healthy When You Shop for Groceries Online – Consumer Reports
- Quality of grocery store website product nutrition information online – University of Minnesota
- How Online Grocery Stores Support Consumer Nutrition Information Needs – Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
- Whole Foods Market Launches Online Product Experience Tailored to Dietary Preferences – Whole Foods Market/WebWire
- While shopping for groceries, Americans deem cost more important than nutritional information – YouGov
- SpartanNash to make ‘the healthy choice the easy choice’ for consumers with Nutrition Pathways nutrition and lifestyle attributes – SpartanNash
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is finding nutrition and other information about food items still much easier in-store than online? Do you see challenges accessing online content as more of a learning curve for shoppers or will it require an overhaul of many grocery websites?