Labelling major factor in choice to purchase ethical food

05th April 2011 - Fine Cut

Clear labelling is a major factor in consumers decisions to buy ethically-produced food, according to a new study reported on

Researchers at Melbourne Business School came to the conclusion by offering Melbourne Zoo visitors the choice between two food products similar in everything but palm oil content. Palm oil has been linked to the destruction of orangutan habitats.

The study was conducted many times using different labels to show that the alternative product was palm-oil free, with results showing that more people opted for the more ethical alternative when the ingredients were clearly labelled.

The results may convince the UK Government to provide strict rules on food labelling as they try to improve fitness and healthy eating levels within Britain.

Commenting on the study lead researcher Professor Klein claimed that ethical ingredients were more of a driving factor in product choice than cost.

Speaking to, she said: "The visibility of the information was what mattered most. If you want to establish yourself as using caring and ethical ingredients, you are going to have to make it very obvious.''

The results of Klein's study were consistent whether the experiment was performed with crisps or fruit bars.

Even those who declared a strong concern for the plight of the orangutans were less likely to buy the palm-oil free product unless the information was made obvious.

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