Putting Polish health claims to the cześć
Chris Ryder, University of Reading
In our third European target country, we found that there was once again the same sort of scepticism about the validity of health claims: "Nobody knows if it's true". It seems that a lack of awareness of the legislation and scientific backing of health claims is a Europe-wide problem, and one that our project is hoping to help change!
What is clearly quite different in Poland, however, is that there is a lot more interest in nutrition generally, and therefore in health claims on food packaging specifically. Pleasure from food in Poland comes more from the cooking rather than eating, and in a way this allows nutrition to be a lot more functional for Polish consumers.
It also seems that, in a number of ways, regulation surrounding health claims is a lot more relaxed in Poland. That's not to say that regulators will not adjudicate where it's necessary, but there is more of a tendency to allow a company to run with a wording change and see if it causes any problems, rather than react in advance or to individual complaints. One interviewee even said that a lot of Polish manufacturers are as unaware as consumers that these health claims are regulated!
There is also a linguistic reason for a more relaxed approach to health claims wording. You may remember from last year that we found UK consumers did not like the word normal and greatly preferred healthy, even though officially this change is not permitted by UK authorities. But in Polish the word normal has a much more negative feeling to it, so the official Polish versions of health claims tend to use either zdrowy (healthy) or prawidłowy (proper) – this means that Polish manufacturers start off with a bit more of an advantage with their consumers than in many other countries!
Having said that, we are yet to put Polish wording to the test using our digital platform in the same was as we did for the English versions, so perhaps there is yet another word that Polish consumers would prefer to see besides zdrowy and prawidłowy. Our translated versions of the website are coming very soon, so watch this space!
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