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Label claims are proliferating at a rate never before seen in the food industry, and still consumers want more. According to the results of a recent survey by Deloitte Consulting, more than two out of five people say they don’t feel they have enough information about the food they’re consuming. They want to know country of origin, along with the healthfulness and safety of ingredients. And they say they’re willing to pay more for this.

food_label.jpgFrom umbrella certifications like USDA Organic to very specific claims (“a great source of calcium!”), whole health labels have become a way to better match products with the needs and goals of shoppers. This has certainly resonated with consumers, and so it’s no surprise that they desire even further clarity.

But bear in mind that too much labeling can leave consumers feeling overwhelmed. They’re especially confused right now by all the green messaging that’s out there, studies show. And who can blame them? All those claims about nutrition and ethics and sustainability add another layer to the complex choices that people already face in the supermarket.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to diminish the importance of transparency in the food system. Today’s consumer wants and deserves detailed product information. In working to accomplish this, however, the labeling emphasis shouldn’t be on “more” but, rather, “smarter.”

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