In March of last year, the Government approved the regulation of the Law for the Promotion of Healthy Eating No. 27,642, better known as the Front Labeling Law.
Among other points, this legislation includes a warning system for processed and ultra-processed foods, in the form of black octagons with white letters on the fronts of the containers that indicate the presence of excesses of some critical nutrient, such as sugar or fat. The criteria are based on the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) nutrient profile.
In Argentina, there was an adaptation period requested by companies to readjust their labels, but since August 2022 all products are supposed to display identification. Thus, the degree of knowledge about the content of food grows among the population.
With the law in full force, in April the market research firm Kantar conducted a nationwide survey that revealed the reaction of consumers on the shelves to labeled products.
One of the observations of the study is that the shelves are already full of products with black octagons and the proportion of Argentines who saw stamps exceeds by 10 percentage points those who know the law.
So far, 4 out of 10 consumers changed a brand or product; However, the proportion that thinks about reducing purchase frequency or volume doubles.
When segmenting respondents by their degree of knowledge and awareness of the Law, the age group over 50 years, levels ABC1/C2C3 and residents in GBA were the most knowledgeable, in contrast to the youngest and those at the base of the pyramid who report being more uninformed.
"The stamps generate to a large extent negative feelings towards the preferred brands or that were considered healthy, and they begin to think about modifying purchasing habits, reaching 8 out of 10 who believe that they could decrease the frequency and / or volume of purchase of products with octagons," said the Kantar study.
When comparing the results of April with a previous survey, from January of this year, the evolution of the impact of the Law was also reflected: the proportion of people who saw many products with seals tripled (22% vs. 66%). In addition, 34% of shoppers modified their shopping habits in January and that proportion grew to 38% in April.
On the other hand, 35% of the sample -among 1004 people- fully adhered to the following idea: "I am surprised that brands that I thought were healthy have seals".
"In conclusion, summarizes Mariana Souto, Director of Omnibus of KANTAR Insights Division, "we can say that before the new packaging with octagons there is a negative emotional impact, especially on those that were healthy or preferred brands".
"A behavioral impact is beginning to be perceived, which translates into the search for brands with fewer or no stamps. In addition, the frequency and/or volume of purchase of certain products could be affected," he says.
According to Julieta Dejean, leader of CX, Analytics and Commerce of the same company, "brands must solve some issues in this context". For example, "evaluate where the brand or category is now that it has seals; understand what the consumer expects from that brand and investigate how it affects the coexistence of products with and without seals under the same brand umbrella", among other things.