Buying blindly and with enthusiasm: Lack of time forces hasty purchases

One in three Greeks over the age of 18 has gone on a diet over the last 12 months and 61 percent went on a slimming course. The majority of those who want to deal with their obesity problem do not seek expert help and do not take up healthy eating or physical exercise, but instead follow the methods recommended by slimming institutes, which, as the Consumer Protection Center (KEPKA) said, are of dubious value. To mark World Food Day, on October 15 in Thessaloniki KEPKA representatives presented the findings of a detailed survey on Greek consumers’ dietary habits. They pointed out that 73 percent of consumers had tried in the past to follow a healthier diet. «The knowledge that many modern diseases are diet-related, coupled with the attitude that ‘we are what we eat,’ appears to have raised issues for Greek consumers,» KEPKA President Nikolaos Tsemberlides told Kathimerini, commenting on the survey’s findings. Seven-hundred-and-ninety-two people took part, from all parts of Greece. After the questionnaires were processed, the picture that emerged was that of a working consumer without time to shop for food products. Many Greeks buy food once weekly, and all of it at the same time (45 percent), spend half an hour to one hour on their purchases (48 percent), draw up a shopping list based on real needs but end up buying more than they need (42 percent). Fifty-six percent of consumers said they prefer supermarkets for their purchases. Twenty-four percent go shopping without a list. Combined with the 42 percent of consumers that admit to buying extra products based on what they see on the shelves, some two-thirds of people are influenced by packaging, arrangement and an attractive display. The overwhelming majority of consumers (90 percent) looks at the price before buying the product, the brand (85 percent), the expiry date (85 percent) and weight and quantity (67 percent). The more complex the information on fat content, ingredients, number of calories, nutritional value and recommended use, the greater the number of consumers that read this information either at home (after the purchase) or not at all. In any case, 67 percent of consumers had difficulty grasping what the ingredients were, though they regard them as an incentive to buy. As a result, 89 percent believe the way in which ingredients are written on packaging should be improved, with the use of simplified terms. Claims of 0 percent fat, with vitamins and natural fiber draw attention, but the more complex the terms on the product, the more confused consumers are in their choices, as the questionnaire showed. KEPKA concluded that consumers needed simple, comprehensible and readily perusable terms on product marking, in order to improve their dietary habits.