Are online grocery stores being designed to support consumer nutrition information needs?
With a steady growth in online grocery shopping, a new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, published by Elsevier, examines the availability of nutrition-related information on leading grocery store websites.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota assessed 12 US grocery websites and evaluated the availability of nutrition-related features for 26 different food items on leading grocery store websites. Nutrition facts panels and ingredient statement information were available for 85 percent of the packaged foods and nutrition facts panel information was accessible within one click of the product page for the majority of food items. However, nutrition facts panels and ingredient statement information were not universally available for food items for which labeling on product packaging is mandatory, and this information was not always easily accessed or legible.
Additionally, research found that most online stores offer the ability to filter food search results based on nutrition-related food attribute. For example, consumers may search for gluten-free options. However, the ability to sort search results by a nutrition attribute like sodium quantity per serving was not an option on any of the online stores.
"At the time we were designing this study there were very few published articles evaluating online grocery stores and very few articles evaluating even how consumers shop for groceries online in any capacity." stated Kelly Olzenak, MPH, RD, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA. Consequently, this research paves the way for many future studies on the topic of online grocery shopping and its effect on the nutritional choices of consumers.