After years of rebelling against official advice and protesting that using red, amber and green labels to signal the nutritional value of products was too simplistic, Tesco is to adopt the “traffic light” system on food and drink.
The UK's biggest retailer said it had made the U-turn in response to new customer research showing that shoppers would prefer a combination of its long-favoured Guideline Daily Allowance (GDA) system with colour-coded consumption advice used since 2005 by competitors, including Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Co-Op.
Although Tesco always maintained its resistance was nothing to do with fears of red labels hurting sales, it had argued that traffic lighting would see some products unfairly stigmatised.
In 2007 it helped launch a £4m advertising campaign promoting its alternative — printing plain percentages of sugar, salt, fat and calories for each serving.
But the Food Standards Agency criticised its approach, saying shoppers “can't always interpret the information quickly and often find percentages difficult to understand and use”.