Portion info on food packaging often ‘confusing’, finds Which? research

Portion information on food packaging is often “confusing, inconsistent or unrealistic”, according to a study by Which?.

The consumer champion surveyed 1,265 people, with many respondents getting it wrong when asked to estimate how many servings popular supermarket foods contain.

Which? said that confusing packaging is making it difficult for consumers to get an accurate picture about how much sugar, fat and salt the food they buy contains.

In the survey, more than half of respondents thought a 225g supermarket pack of halloumi would cover two to four servings, when the packaging information suggests it should feed seven.

Meanwhile, over a third of respondents believed a tub of Pringles contained two to four portions, when the packaging suggests it contains six to seven servings of around 13 crisps per person.

The majority - 79 per cent - thought a supermarket meal deal was designed to be the ideal portion size for one person, but Which? revealed that while the sandwich typically included in a meal deal is usually for one person, the drink and snack you get alongside it may be designed for two.

For example, a 300ml bottle of orange juice and a packet of nuts usually state they contain two portions.

“Which? found people can be confused by inconsistent and unrealistic serving sizes and that the way that manufacturers provide these can sometimes make it difficult to assess just how healthy a product is," said Shefalee Loth, Which? nutritionist. “Nutrition labelling is really valuable for consumers, including front of pack traffic light labelling, but it needs to be based on meaningful and consistent portion sizes.”

The research also said that portion sizes on some popular products are inconsistent across pack sizes, including Walkers Ready Salted crisps which come in three different individual pack sizes.

Despite the three pack sizes, ranging from 25g to 46g, they all count as one portion, while in a 150g sharing bag, a portion is 30g.

Which? says that the same applied to Cadbury's Dairy Milk, with different pack sizing recommending one serving size between 20g and 33.5g.

Retail Systems has contacted Walkers, Cadbury, and Pringles for comment.

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