Consumers Increasingly Seeking “Healthfulness” in Food, Beverages

IFICWhile taste and price have consistently been the two most important factors impacting by American consumers’ food and beverage purchases, a recent survey conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) found that healthfulness has become of critical importance in buying decisions.

According to the IFIC’s 2014 Food & Health Survey, healthfulness was a key factor for 71 percent of U.S. consumers when making food and beverage purchases, a 10 percent leap from 2012. The survey also pointed to significant gains within a number of demographic groups. IFIC noted that 66 percent of 18-34 year-old consumers cited healthfulness as a driver of food and beverage purchases, up from 55 percent in 2013, a jump that significantly narrowed the gap with other age groups. Male consumers who said that healthfulness is an important factor in purchasing decisions rose from 56 percent last year to 65 percent this year, while 67 percent of non-college graduates indicated their purchasing decisions were impacted by healthfulness, up from 61 percent in 2013.

When it comes to diet and healthfulness, 79 percent of consumers said that they have cut calories by drinking water or low- and no-calorie beverages, and 83 percent reported that have attempted to eat more fruits and vegetables within the past year or for more than a year. Seventy-two percent of consumers reported that they are eating more grains.

Health professionals are by far the top choice for consumers seeking information about nutrition, physical activity and weight loss with health-focused websites and scientific journals coming in a distant second and third. Notably, social media, news media, and TV personalities “were in the low single-digits across all three information categories,” according to the survey.

Although most consumers are confident in the safety of the U.S. food supply, many are increasingly wary about where their food comes from and seek out more information about food sources. Sixty-six percent of consumers said that they are at least somewhat confident in the food supply, down from 78 percent in 2012. Government agencies are still the most trusted resource for consumers seeking information about food safety and sourcing, according to IFIC.

A few other key findings from the survey:

  • Sixty percent of consumers somewhat agree that they know the amount of caffeine in the foods and beverages they consume. Yet, when asked if they believe an 8 oz. cup of home-brewed coffee has roughly the same amount of caffeine as an 8 oz. energy drink, only 18 percent correctly answered “true,” while 45 percent answered “false.”
  • More than a third of consumers report regularly buying food that is labeled as “natural” (37 percent) or “local” (35 percent), with 32 percent who regularly buy products advertised as “organic.”
  • Consumers are trying to get a certain amount or as much as possible of fiber (53 percent), whole grains (53 percent), protein (50 percent), calcium (36 percent), omega-3 fats (21 percent), potassium (19 percent), and probiotics (18 percent).