Despite the growing interest and desire to eat healthier, more nutrient-rich food and drinks, consumers still attach considerable importance to moderating fat, sugar, salt and carbohydrate consumption. A report from independent market analyst Datamonitor reveals how consumers are taking greater self-responsibility toward maintaining their health. “With 65% of U.S. and European consumers taking more active steps to eat more healthily in 2006, better-for-you food and drink options are being consumed on a more regular basis,” says Michael Hughes, consumer market analyst and author of the study.
Reducing fat consumption
Consumers are embracing ever more complex healthy-eating regimes based on the elimination and inclusion of a broader range of nutrients. Nevertheless, the majority of us adopting a more restrictive approach to healthy eating are primarily focusing on the eradication or reduction of fats from their diet.
Datamonitor found that consumer awareness about different types of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fat is increasing, especially in the United States where there has been considerable hype about trans fats. “This awareness is not always reflected by detailed knowledge, suggesting that manufacturers and retailers – with the support of industry institutions – need to continue consumer education initiatives”, Hughes says.
The report also outlined the problem that the pursuit of a healthy diet is being hindered by a lack of awareness regarding one’s actual nutrition intake. Nevertheless, the discussions about fat also will begin to take a more positive slant. “Increasing attention will be placed upon good fats, in line with the trend toward ‘positive nutrition’," Hughes adds. "Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids will become an increasingly desirable product attribute in many instances.”
Checking food and drink labeling
Datamonitor found that an increasingly strong appetite for nutritional information is emerging among European and U.S. consumers. “With increased emphasis on the nutritional value of food and drink, it is only natural that consumers will devote greater time to studying labels and packaging of food and drink to assess the content of the product. No wonder the debate over food labeling continues to escalate," Hughes says.
More than half of European and U.S. shoppers used nutritional information on packaging with greater regularity to make food and drink choices in 2006. UK consumers (60%) were most likely to report doing so, compared to a low of 37% in Germany. Hughes concludes, “Nutritional labels are seen as a positive and even necessary piece of information. Shoppers will become even more engaged with their food and drink decision-making based on greater levels of detail."