Impact of Health Labelling on Product Choices in India


The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) plans to introduce a 'health star rating’ (HSR) system for packaged foods in 2022. According to GlobalData, a top data analytics company, FSSAI’s new rating system will prompt consumers and retailers to shift towards healthier food choices with higher star ratings. 

Non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and obesity, have skyrocketed in India due to overconsumption of high-calorie food and drinks. Such intake of junk food with empty calories deprives consumers of nutrition and aggravates the malnutrition crisis in India. 

GlobalData’s consumer survey in 2021 revealed that 62 percent of Indian consumers were often or always impacted in their product choices by health labelling. 

The Indian food safety regulator front-of-pack-labelling (FoPL) system will score the nutritional profile of packaged food and drinks on five stars. Products with less fat, salt, and sugar will be associated with higher ratings. By easily comparing products, consumers can make informed purchase decisions that will help reduce any unnecessary intake of high-calorie food and drinks.

“Front-of-pack-labelling is expected to be more effective in educating consumers and modifying their behaviour than the present ‘back-of-pack’ labelling. This will drive a trend towards healthier and more nutritious packaged processed foods and alleviate malnutrition,” said Bobby Verghese, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData.

“The FSSAI is expected to implement the HSR in a phased manner, giving food and beverage companies a timeline to comply with the new regulation. The HSR will have a seismic impact on the food and beverage industry in India compelling the manufacturers time to reformulate products for better ratings and reformat their packaging designs.”

Retailers are predicted to experience pressure to stock shelves with healthier products. According to GlobalData’s 2021 consumer survey, 55 percent of Indian consumers revealed that the availability and variety of healthy and nutritious products was the most influential deciding factor for where they do their grocery shopping.

 “The star rating will help shoppers to navigate better between the myriad of undefined health claims. However, as with every FoPL system, the HSR has drawbacks. While the system grades products according to the proportion of salt, sugar, and fat, it fails to consider the presence of nutrients such as protein, vitamins, fibre, and probiotics. It remains to be seen how the FSSAI will address such issues, and how it will implement the star rating.”