What’s on the forefront of consumer minds as they think about food in 2017? The International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) looked at this very topic in its 12th annual Food & Health Survey. This year’s report offers an abundance of insights about consumer perceptions of food, nutrition and health, but here is a look at a few of the key takeaways.
Taste Is Still King
Consistent with previous reports, taste is the main factor driving purchasing decisions (84% of consumers). Price (66%) has maintained the number two spot for several years, but in 2017 healthfulness (63%) is closing in on the gap. Convenience (50%) and sustainability (40%) have lower impact on purchasing decisions. Generational differences exist, with more than half of millennials naming convenience as the top factor, while Boomers are more concerned with taste and brand.
Growing Focus on Nutrients in Food
Nearly six in 10 consumers define “healthy” foods as those containing high amounts of healthy components or nutrients, with more than one-third looking for foods low in unhealthy nutrients or components. The most sought after “healthy” components and nutrients include vitamin D (88%), fiber (87%), whole grains (84%), plant-based protein (73%) and unsaturated fats (42%), including omega-3s (71%). Americans are actively avoiding “unhealthy” saturated fat (60%), animal protein (20%) and refined grains (10%).
Demand for Clean Labels Continues
Consumers consult the ingredients list before purchasing a product: 60 percent look for easily recognizable ingredients, while four in 10 focus on the number of ingredients. Additionally, 40 percent believe foods containing fewer artificial ingredients or preservatives are healthier.
Interestingly, while taste is the leading consideration in purchasing decisions, nearly half of Americans agreed they would choose products free of artificial ingredients, even if they didn’t taste as good as a better-tasting product with artificial ingredients.
Food Production Practices Top of Mind
Consumers desire transparency and minimal processing in food production:
- Whether at the grocery store or a restaurant, consumers are interested in knowing where their food comes from (50% packaged foods; 40% restaurants) and how it was produced (40% for both packaged foods and restaurants).
- GMOs continue to be a central focus, as three-quarters believe non-GM foods are healthier, safer and better for the environment.
- Various labels referencing production practices also impact purchasing decisions. Americans prefer foods free from added hormones, steroids, antibiotics, pesticides and GMOs and are natural, organic or locally sourced.
Omega-9 Oils Help Meet Consumer Desires
Looking to better meet consumer desires this research highlights? Omega-9 Oils can help:
- Taste: Omega-9 Canola Oil has a light clean taste that allows foods’ flavor to shine through.
- Nutrition: Uniquely high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, among the lowest levels of saturated fats, and with zero trans fats, Omega-9 Canola Oil can help foodservice establishments and food manufacturers create better-for-you options.
- Clean Label: The natural stability of Omega-9 Canola Oil delivers increased shelf life without the use of additives or artificial preservatives, such as TBHQ.
- Choice: Developed through traditional plant breeding, Omega-9 Canola Oils are available either conventionally processed or non-GMO Project Verified.