When it comes to food and beverages, price is closing in on taste says IFIC survey

Increasingly for Americans the cost of food is becoming almost as important as the taste of it, according to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation 2011 Food & Health Survey of 1,000 Americans.

Although taste remains the top consideration (87 percent), 79 percent of consumers say price impacts their decision when deciding which foods and beverages to purchase, a six percent increase from 2010 and a noteworthy 15 percent increase since 2006. While healthfulness (66 percent), convenience (58 percent) and sustainability (52 percent) play roles in consumer decision making, no other motivator rose at the same rate as price over the past five years.

Interestingly, these trends are consistent with what drives Americans' menu decisions at restaurants: taste (69 percent) and price (61 percent) are ranked as the top two motivators. Americans also say that lower prices are the top driver leading them to make more healthful choices when shopping for food.

 

The survey also found that significantly fewer Americans are concerned about their weight status when compared to last year; 50 percent of Americans describe themselves as overweight in 2011 compared to 57 percent in 2010. More perceive their diet as extremely or somewhat healthful (62 percent) when compared to 2010 (53 percent). At the same time, fewer Americans report making dietary changes (59 percent in 2011 compared to 64 percent in 2010) and more report that their physical activity levels are sedentary (43 percent) - a significant increase from 2010 (37 percent). These contradictions are further evidenced by the fact that the number of people trying to lose or maintain weight (69 percent) has significantly decreased since 2010 (77 percent).

 Other findings include: Americans' awareness of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans has increased (81 percent in 2011 compared to 71 percent in 2010). Still, 95 percent of Americans could not name another "healthy living" initiative beyond the Dietary Guidelines for Americans or MyPyramid, such as First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Campaign; Despite significant attention on sodium in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, other sodium-reduction initiatives, and media, Americans' concern about sodium remains stable. A little more than half of Americans (53 percent) say they are very or somewhat concerned about their sodium intake, equal to last year (53 percent); Sixty-one percent believe that imported food is less safe than foods produced in the U.S., citing less regulation as the top reason. Trust in the safety of the U.S. food supply, however, remains stable; half are extremely or somewhat confident in the safety of the U.S. food supply, similar to previous years. The top U.S. food safety concern continues to be foodborne illness (50 percent in 2011); Even though eight in 10 report following safe food handling practices, the numbers continue to decline. Seventy-nine percent say they wash their hands with soap and water when handling food, down from 89 percent in 2010 and 92 percent in 2008. Also declining, 71 percent report washing cutting boards with soap and water, down from 78 percent in 2010 and 84 percent in 2008; Only nine percent can accurately estimate the number of calories they should consume in a day for a person of their age, height, weight, and physical activity. Additionally, almost half are unable to provide an estimate of how many calories they burn in a day (60 percent offer inaccurate estimates). Furthermore, the majority do not keep track of calories consumed or burned, citing numerous barriers, including extreme difficulty and a lack of interest, knowledge, and focus; and Despite the popularity of some "food rules" which suggest certain foods to avoid, Americans more and more say they would rather hear what to eat (63 percent) instead of what not to eat.  The interest in positive messaging rose seven percent since 2009 when the Survey last polled Americans on this sentiment.

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