Food labeling usually mirrors marketing trends and/or
consumer demands and expectations. To understand
the trends driving food labels in Argentina, I interviewed Cristina Zapata, a specialist in international
commerce and professor of graduate studies at the
University of Buenos Aires.
Q:Which food marketing trends are Argentinean consumers following?
Nutrition is a very important aspect of food, but food is also
a social event permeated by cultural beliefs. Therefore, to understand the market in Argentina, it is important to discuss the
relationship Argentineans have with food. In this respect, most
Argentinean men value large and tasty meals with high quality
ingredients. In contrast, Argentinean women tend to focus more on
their personal appearance than on nutrition, even when this focus
may lead to eating disorders. These trends are applicable to high-and middle-class populations, in which it is common to see families comprised of very thin mothers and overweight fathers and
children. The rest of the population focuses on a more traditional
approach of meals made at home. However, those below the poverty level rely on social programs for access to a daily food plate.
Given this context, food and beverage companies make use of
a lexicon that targets various beliefs and market sectors. For example, an idea that has now been engrained is that the word “LIGHT”
or “CERO” (zero in English) is synonymous with the word “diet.”
Because of this, there is a parallel campaign from official regulatory
agencies indicating that the word “light” should not be associated
with weight loss, calorie reduction, or diet. However, most people
who read labels focus on the main package claim (e.g., “LIGHT”)
and disregard ingredient lists and full nutritional panels. Generally
speaking, nutritional panels are read for a description of caloric
value only. Examples of commercially available products with the
“LIGHT” claim on the package include potato chips, salad dressings, mayonnaise, yogurt, cream cheese, and canned fruit, among
Q:Besides the “LIGHT” label, how is the “FAT FREE” label posi- tioned in the market?
In the dairy industry, the term “DESCREMADO” is a euphemism
for the term “FAT FREE.” Products bearing the “DESCREMADO”
label are slightly more costly than those made with whole milk.
trends and food labeling
Latin America Update
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