This data comes from a survey conducted from December 2019 to March 2020 in which 4,408 people completed a questionnaire. They were recruited from 10 counties across the country.
The questionnaire collected data on demographics and consumer concerns of various parts of a food label, including production date, shelf life, storage conditions, storage conditions, production process, nutritional information, product ingredient list, certification marks, origin and manufacturer.
This study, funded by the Chinese Ministry of Education, was published in the International Journal of Food Science.
“The analysis found that there isn’t much research on dairy label information, especially in China. Aiming to fill that void, this study examines the factors influencing Chinese consumers’ identification and awareness of dairy labeling, ”researchers wrote.
The results of this study will provide guidance to the government on how to effectively bring knowledge about dairy products to the public.
With consumers becoming more concerned about the date of manufacture and the shelf life, as well as the storage conditions of dairy products, it suggests that food safety remains a priority.
China is no stranger to food safety incidents such as Fuyang’s low-quality milk powder in 2004, Sanlu’s milk powder in 2008, Fonterra’s “botox bacillus” in 2013, and “high calcium Huishan milk” in 2015 that have caused consumers to lose confidence in the quality and safety of dairy products.
Because of these incidents, people are paying more attention to dairy product safety issues.
Therefore, the label information of dairy products in China is strictly standardized in order to increase consumer confidence in quality-assured dairy products.
The researchers also suggested that the information on the package regarding nutrition was too complicated.
“The nutritional information and ingredients list for the product contained too much expertise and consumers could not fully understand and judge them.
“Also, consumers could not seriously care about the knowledge contained in the certification mark information.”
The survey also highlighted some demographic differences, with consumers with higher per capita incomes having more concerns about labeling information, while younger consumers with more education were more interested in higher nutritional dairy products.
Limitations and Recommendations
Based on these results, the researchers advised that less educated and older consumers should also be educated about dairy products.
“Relevant knowledge of dairy products should be fairly and objectively promoted and popularized through the media such as newspapers, radio and television for the low-educated, middle-aged and elderly through the use of lively language and visual images in order to gradually address the concerns of Increase consumers in terms of information on the label of dairy products. “
“This work has some regulatory and political implications and national authorities need to invest more in education and communication about dairy products so that consumers, including more diverse groups, have the right knowledge to use when shopping for dairy products.”
Because this study was conducted in China, the results may not be reflected in other countries. In addition, there are different labeling guidelines for dairy products in different countries.
“Further cross-border studies should be carried out to understand consumer awareness and concerns about labeling of dairy products in different countries or regions.”
For example, a Canadian study found that consumers prefer to buy local dairy products compared to imported dairy products and may even be willing to pay a premium.
In another category, a study of the wine market in China found that consumers were most concerned about the origin and vintage.
Since the date of manufacture, shelf life and storage conditions were reported to be the most important items on dairy product labels, dairy companies can use these findings to gain a competitive advantage through product labeling, the researchers added.
Source: International Journal of Food Science
“The Impact of Dairy Label Information on Consumer Perceptions: The Case of the China Rulings”
Authors: Ce Xu, Can Liu and Jingmin Cheng