A Graphic Designer Takes on the Nutrition Facts

March 11, 2011

Nutrition education is everywhere. Americans are getting information from just about every angle. But is it making a lasting impact?

Nutrition education is everywhere. Americans are getting tidbits of food related information from just about every angle, TV, newspaper ads, friends, kids, co-workers, dieticians and more; but is this information actually leading to better choices or giving consumers the practical tools to determine if the product is right?
Research from the NPD group tracking consumers’ interest in reading food labels has noted a continued decline. Clearly consumers have grown tired and uninterested in the current look of the nutrition facts panel. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, so it doesn’t seem as if the messages are changing behavior. To add to that, it also appears that the handful of front of package labeling schemes continue to confuse consumers. 
The Lempert Report interviewed Audree Lapierre a graphic designer with the firm FFunction (www.ffctn.com), who developed a conceptual redesign of the nutrition facts label with the goal of making it more descriptive, easy to understand, and more empowering for shoppers.
TLR: Audree, tell us about one of the designs.
Lapierre: The triangle design shows the caloric ratio, so you can see at a glance if a food product is heavier in carbs or proteins or fats. It also gives the exact numbers, but visually you can tell what’s in the food. It also gives the daily value for each of those categories. The other side shows the list of ingredients. The ingredient that is mostly used in the product is written in a bigger font. It’s a bit like “tag clouds” on the Internet. This is liked to the amount per serving, so you’re also going to see the amount of carbs, fats and sodium in grams. 
TLR: What was FFunction’s motivation behind this new packaging label design?

Lapierre: It was mostly an experiment. We didn’t want to revolutionize the world of food packaging, but we thought that maybe it was more interesting than the stereotypical images of barns, cows, etc. so maybe what’s in the packaging could be represented on the packaging, and also, maybe it could help people make smarter decisions about what they eat. 
TLR: Audree, what are your thoughts on the current nutrition facts panel?

Lapierre: Well, it does a good job of giving information, but it’s harder to read quickly at a glance what’s in the packaging instead of just calculating the numbers on the table.

Perhaps it is time to start with a blank sheet of paper and design nutrition information that aligns with the way all of us learn – the 2011 way. For the full interview on Food News Today and to find out where Audree foresees the design click here.