The number of American consumers who consider healthfulness when purchasing their food and beverages has shown a significant uptick in the past two years.
The 2014 Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes toward Food Safety, Nutrition & Health, commissioned by the International Food Information Council Foundation, is the ninth annual national quantitative study designed to gain insights from Americans on important food safety, nutrition and health-related topics. The research provides the opportunity to better understand how Americans view their own diets, their efforts to improve them, how they balance diet and exercise, their knowledge of food ingredients and components, their beliefs when it comes to food safety, and their behaviors across all of these fronts.
A few highlights of the study include:
- While taste and price consistently have been the top two factors that impact consumers’ food and beverage purchases (90 percent and 73 percent respectively), healthfulness in 2014 almost entirely closed the gap with price, rising from 61 percent of consumers in 2012 to 71 percent this year, a 10 percentage-point increase.
- Consumers aged 18-34, who cite healthfulness as a driver of food and beverage purchases, increased from 55 percent in 2013 to 66 percent in 2014, significantly narrowing the gap with other age groups.
- Topping the list of what respondents believe to be the most effective weight-management strategy is tracking and increasing the amount of time of physical activity at 27 percent, followed closely by eating smaller portions at 26 percent, and eating smaller and more frequent meals or snacks at 23 percent.
- Only 23 percent of respondents report having had an “emotional conversation” about food in the past six months. Half of respondents (50 percent) report having conversations about food that are not emotional.
- This year, 66 percent of consumers are at least somewhat confident in the food supply, while 30 percent are not too confident or not at all confident. In 2012, the former figure stood at 78 percent, while the latter stood at 18 percent.
- Americans are most likely to trust that health professionals will provide accurate information about weight loss, physical activity, and nutrition. On the other hand, Americans trust the U.S. government the most when it comes to food safety, food ingredients, and the way foods are produced and farmed.
- “Expiration date” is the most used information on food labels, with 66 percent of consumers saying the look for it. The percentage of consumers who check the Nutrition Facts Panel was relatively unchanged this year at 65 percent
- About half of all consumers (51 percent) use nutrition information such as calorie counts when eating out at restaurants, while 23 percent have noticed such information but don’t pay attention to it, and 26 percent haven’t noticed such information at all.
- Half of consumers (51 percent) report that they are getting “pretty close to” or less than what they believe is the appropriate amount of sugars in their diets.
- More than a third of consumers report regularly buying food that is labeled as “natural” (37 percent) or “local” (35 percent), with 32 percent who regularly buy products advertised as “organic.”
For the full report, visit http://www.foodinsight.org/foodandhealth2014.aspx.