Although taste continues to dominate food decision making for most (84%), an increasing number of consumers say they are trying to make healthier choices and lose weight – 57 percent in 2016, compared to 52 percent in 2015. This is according to the International Food Information Council 2016 Food and Health Survey, which also shows how consumers define health is changing.
For about one-third of consumers (35%), the healthfulness of a food is determined more by what is not in it than what is. Consumers say healthy foods have less fat, sugar, calories and sodium. And, limiting specific types of food or food groups is one of the top strategies consumers say they will use (70 percent “very” or “somewhat” likely) to manage their weight this year.
For 44 percent of consumers, especially women, saturated fats are among the dietary components they are actively trying to limit. More than one-quarter of consumers say they believe saturated fat is less healthy than before, primarily after seeing or hearing a media headline, article or scientific study in the last year. Another 35 percent, mostly college graduates and women, are trying to limit or avoid packaged foods. The primary reason for cutting back is the potential, in their view, for extra sugar, fat and salt.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans direction to reduce bad fats, such as saturated fats, clearly is getting through to consumers. However, the Dietary Guidelines also call for replacing these bad fats with good fats, like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which 20 percent say they now believe are LESS healthy than they did last year. One-third of consumers admit not knowing what foods contain these healthy fats is a barrier to consuming more.
Manufacturers are trying to meet the demand for healthier foods, without sacrificing the characteristics consumers say remain paramount: taste and convenience. The good news is there are ingredient options now readily available that offer taste, performance and nutrition.
Omega-9 Canola oil, for example, has minimal levels of the saturated fats consumers are looking to avoid, and high levels of the heart-healthy, monounsaturated fats, they know they should be eating more often. And, since Omega-9 Canola Oil is naturally stable and neutral-flavored, it can help extend shelf life and let the intended flavors of the food shine through. Check out examples of leading companies that have successfully made the switch and contact us to learn more.