ARLINGTON, Va. — Shoppers are increasingly looking for beneficial ingredients like fiber and whole grains in their foods rather than seeking to avoid excess fat, salt and calories, according to Shopping for Health 2011, the yearly report published by Food Marketing Institute here and Prevention magazine.
“While the main criteria for healthy foods was previously determined by ingredients it did not contain, today’s shoppers are now instead wondering what’s in their food, seeking to better understand the nutritional components of what they eat,” said Cary Silvers, director of consumer insights for Prevention.
Fiber (44%) is the most sough-after component, followed by whole grain (36%), protein (27%), omega-3 (23%) and antioxidants (16%). Certain health claims are also proving to be attractive to customers. When purchasing food, heart health (73%) is the top health claim on packaging that matters to consumers. More energy (71%), digestive health (66%), and improving mind health (65%) follow closely behind.
Despite this attention to healthy foods, lack of planning is trumping health in the decision-making process at the American dinner table, as 72% of shoppers decide what to have for dinner that day. When same-day decisions for dinner are made, health (52%) falls well behind taste (73%), quickness of preparation (60%) and craving (52%) on consumers' priority list. About a fourth of shoppers (24%) decide what to have for dinner within one hour before eating.
“Helping food retailers provide their customers with the information they need to make nutritious choices and develop healthy eating habits remains a clarion call for FMI,” says Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer, FMI. “As schedules become busier and awareness of health issues increase, the consumer demand for healthful options that are quick and easy for families will grow.”