If you’ve ever felt that food labelling may be disguising the tactics and strategies of food manufacturers to improve their profits and lure in would-be consumers, then you’ve probably stayed current on the various controversies regarding dubious ‘organic’ labelling and other half-truths which have found their way onto food products in countries around the world. Truthfully speaking, there’s little evidence to assuage consumers who feel that misrepresentation on food products is more of a standard industry practice than exception to the rule.
In many instances, which misleads consumers – either accidentally or not – often do so within the realm of nutritional content. Consumers may believe that they are purchasing a product which offers them a more nutritious experience than they are actually receiving. Or, products which are labelled ‘all natural’ and / or ‘organic’, obviously an enticing attribute for consumers who are health conscious, may not actually qualify for such labelling conventions. However, the recent situation involving noted coffee manufacturer Kenco is unique in that it represents a rather ‘under-the-radar’ substitution in which the sugar content of the company’s coffee packets has increased 168% while the actual coffee content has decreased by 50%.
Of particular interest is the fact that, while the on the Kenco coffee packets has been updated in order to reflect these new nutritional changes, the company has yet to make a public statement regarding their rational or intentions behind these switches. In fact, there has been no public disclosure of these ‘switches’ anywhere outside of the label itself.
Fortunately, the growing tide of consumer awareness and independence across the UK has helped ensure that these changes are not capable of slipping through the cracks. The average UK grocery shopper has gained a level of agency and critical evaluation during their shopping trips which is due, in large part, to the continued efforts of activist groups to reform labelling protocol across a myriad of product lines. The more attention that labelling receives on a national level, the more likely it is that consumers will take it upon themselves to learn more about how these situations may affect their own lives.
Should Kenco be considered an “immoral” company due to their labelling decisions? Hardly. It is well within their right to change the nutritional makeup of their product line. However, consumers who simply grab items off the shelf without giving them appropriate consideration should definitely be considered “careless”.