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Historical document

Developing a nutrient and/or health claim label for packaged baby leaf spinach and rocket (VG08148)

Key research provider: Applied Horticultural Research Pty Ltd
Publication date: Monday, July 6, 2020

This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.

What was it all about?

Babyleaf spinach and rocket were major components of salad leaf mixes, including the popular packaged fresh-cut mixes. They are also high in some of the important vitamins and antioxidants such as Vitamin C, vitamin A, folate (iron) and glucosinalotes.

Food labelling regulations at the time allowed claims to be made on packages, which informed consumers about the amounts of these healthy bioactives foods contained. Many factors affected the levels of these bioactives including weather, variety and handling. The main aim of this project was to measure the impact of these factors on the levels of bioactives.

This project first reviewed the regulatory system used at the time as it related to nutrition labelling of fresh produce. Next, it reviewed the scientific literature to find what had been published about the levels of Vitamin C, vitamin A and folate in spinach and rocket. Finally, it measured the levels of these bioactives in spinach and rocket including the influence of season, location and storage.

It was found while location, season and storage all affected the levels of Vitamin C, vitamin A and folate in rocket and spinach, and that after 12 days in storage levels were high enough that the following claimed could be made:

  • Baby Leaf Spinach/Rocket formed part of a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables
  • Baby Leaf Rocket was a source of vitamin C, folate and Vitamin A (beta-carotene)
  • Baby Leaf Spinach was a source of folate and Vitamin A (beta-carotene)

Models were developed to determine the estimated levels of vitamin C and folate in blends of salad mixes using the average values from these trials. Nutrient claim labels were developed for the Macro label for Woolworths.

Consumer studies suggested the use of a nutritional claim as the predominant message in marketing salad products was questioned by consumers, and deemed not as important as flavour or variety. While heavy users of leafy greens were health motivated, the proposed nutritional claim platform did not act as a strong, compelling point of difference for launching a range of products into the market.

Further consumer research was recommended to confirm the value placed on nutrient labelling by consumers. It was speculated that the sentiment of consummers was due to it being new and unexpected information rather than it being regarded as having limited value by consumers.


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Funding statement:
This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with co-investment from One Harvest.

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2010. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).