Doctor of Philosophy
School of Health and Society
Background: In response to the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, countries are adopting nutrition labelling as a policy to promote healthy diets. Mongolia is experiencing nutrition transition and its health consequences. In Mongolia, there was a lack of evidence on the implementation of food labelling policy and consumer responses to food labels. These circumstances justified an investigation on policy processes of food labelling policy in Mongolia and consumer perspectives on food and nutrition labelling.
Aims: This research aimed to clarify how consumers in Mongolia perceive and use food label information, with the intent to improve food labelling policy to support consumers to make informed food choices and hence to improve their health outcomes.
Methods: The research utilized a mixed-methods design, comprising of qualitative and quantitative studies. Two consumer studies, a population-based survey (Study I) and a supermarket intercept survey (Study II), explored consumers’ perceptions and use of label information. A qualitative study, employing semi-structured interviews (Study III) analysed the Mongolian food labelling policy to understand policy drivers, and barriers and facilitators to policy processes and their alignment to consumer needs. An audit of labels of food products (Study IV) available at marketplaces was conducted to assess existing food labelling practices.
Results: In Study I, 68% of consumers self-reported looking at food labels. However, when asked to indicate where on labels they had looked during a supermarket visit, only 54% of consumers indicated they had looked at food labels in Study II. Use of nutrition information on labels was minimal, and expiry dates were the most checked information. Socioeconomic status, education, gender, interest in healthy eating and perceived usefulness of food labels were associated with label use. Lack of awareness and motivation to use food labels, labels written in foreign languages and unclear label terms were the main reasons for not using food labels. Study III revealed that the socio-political context of the country was the main driver for the food labelling policy. Facilitators of policy processes were government commitments and technical support from international agencies, while barriers were insufficient knowledge and expertise of regulators, food producers and consumers, and inadequate infrastructure and resources. In Study IV, labels written in Russian and English, inconsistency in the scope and format of label information for both domestic and imported products, lack of standardised text format, especially for domestic products, and inconsistency in the contents of translated and original labels were the major issues.
Discussion and Conclusion: Despite government commitments to adopt food labelling policy, Mongolian consumers experience barriers when using food and nutrition labels, some of which may be addressed through population educational campaigns to increase nutrition literacy and interest in labels, but most of which will require changes to food labelling policy. Consumers’ current use of food labels is low, especially nutrition information, due to their limited awareness. Thus, food label information currently has only a minor impact on food choices and purchases. This research provides recommendations for future actions by the government for food labelling policy and practice.
Chimedtseren, Nyamragchaa, Consumer perspectives on food and nutrition labelling and use of food label information in Mongolia to inform food labelling policy, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, School of Health and Society, University of Wollongong, 2022. https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses1/1660
FoR codes (2008)
1117 PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES
Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.