Consumer Attitudes Toward Oils and Food Labels

In today’s market, grocery shoppers have more choices than ever before. Taste has long been a key driver in determining consumer purchasing, but healthfulness of food and beverage options maintains a strong foothold as one of the top three purchasing influencers.1 With this in mind, Dow AgroSciences — the company behind Omega-9 Canola Oil — conducted research2 to gain a better understanding of consumer awareness, attitudes and behaviors related to food packaging, with a specific focus on oils.

Shoppers perception can affect their purchasing. Four out of 10 consumers identified canola oil as the healthiest oil in a list of oils while palm and corn oils were perceived as the unhealthiest oils. What’s more, 61% of consumers said they wouldn’t purchase or would rethink purchasing a product made with palm oil. And having multiple oils listed on an ingredient may compromise the perception of a food product’s quality, especially among millennials.

Many consumers are looking for specific things when it comes to fats and oils. Nearly half of shoppers seek omega-labeled oils in food products and, subsequently, buy those products. Familiarity with unsaturated fats was found to be a strong predictor for seeking omega-labeled oils in food products, and approximately one in four shoppers expressed some degree of familiarity with poly- and monounsaturated fats. Furthermore, the majority of respondents said they also want to know on the front of a product if it contains unsaturated fats, and three-quarters of shoppers would like to know on the front of a package if a product contains lower levels of saturated fats.

Consumers also consider aspects beyond the nutrient value of food products when making purchasing decisions. Perhaps as a result of the local food movement gaining traction over the years, grocery shoppers also now consider the origin of ingredients in their food products. In fact, this survey found that more than half of shoppers said it’s important to know an oil’s country of origin. Among those surveyed, Canadian canola oil is preferred over U.S.-grown soybean oil, and U.S.-grown canola oil is preferred over U.S.-grown soybean oil. Overall, shoppers prefer canola oil to soybean oil, regardless of its origin.

These results have strong implications for food manufacturers, as consumers are looking for information about the types of fats found in foods, and they are looking for canola oil over soybean oil. Do your products fit the bill? Let us know if we can help you make the switch.


1 International Food Information Council Foundation. (2015). 2015 Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes toward Food Safety, Nutrition & Health.

2 Proprietary Dow AgroSciences research, 2015 (n=1000).