Each year the International Food Information Council (IFIC) surveys American consumers to understand their perceptions, beliefs, and behaviours around food and their purchasing decisions. Many of the findings are relevant to other developed markets and give insight into consumers’ current and evolving interests. The full report can be downloaded here.
Findings of interest:
One in four consumers seek health benefits from food
- Weight loss, energy, digestive health and heart health are the highest ranked health benefits consumers look for.
- Fibre, whole grains and proteins from plant sources, rated the highest in terms of their perceived healthfulness.
Over one third followed a specific dietary pattern
- The main motivator cited was weight loss, followed by a desire to feel better and have more energy.
- Clean eating was the most common eating pattern adhered to (10%), followed by intermittent fasting (8%), gluten-free (6%), low carb (6%) and high fat (6%). Consistent with this, sugar and carbohydrates were believed to be the most likely nutrients to cause weight gain.
Taste is most important in food choice
- The taste of food remains the main purchase driver (86%) followed by price (68%), healthfulness (62%), convenience (57%) and environmental sustainability (27%).
- Trust in a brand and ingredient recognition were also important in the decision to purchase.
Awareness of plant-based is high
- Plant-based foods are well entrenched in people’s minds with 75% familiar with the term and interested to learn more.
- One quarter stated they were eating more plant-based protein than they did a year ago.
- There was however a lack of agreement as to what constitutes a plant-based diet. One third think plant-based means vegan or a diet that contains very little animal meat, eggs or dairy products.
- Despite the interest in plant-based proteins, animal protein is still seen as being healthy by almost 40% of men and 30% of women.
Interest in environmental sustainability
- Although environmental sustainability ranked fairly low in terms of its influence on food choice, more than half of the consumers surveyed were keen to know where their food comes from.
- They valued a manufacturer’s commitment to environmental sustainability but weren’t sure how to assess whether or not a food was environmentally sustainable. For 63% of these people, having this information would guide their food purchases.