The uncertain road to healthy eating choices
More and more people are convinced of the benefits of eating healthily, seeking ways to live longer, lower risks of heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, boost immunity, support healthier pregnancies, build stronger bones and even improve mental health. Many also prioritzing sustainable food sources and production.
However – do consumers understand what can be defined as healthy food? Are food producers and retailers addressing consumers’ needs? The answer to both questions is less positive than we might hope.
This trend is furthermore not limited only to markets of western Europe or North America. East Asia, South East Asia and the MiddleEast are also seeing their share of the rise of the more affluent middle class. And poverty and poor education are not eradicated from developed nations.
Many studies have proven that only a section of consumers are aware that healthy eating means reducing the consumption of processed foods and sugar, as well as fat, salt, and, for some, red meat. Interestingly, younger consumers wherever we find them in the world are more likely to have a longer list of ingredients that they seek to avoid, as they report food allergies and intolerances at much higher levels.
A shift towards healthy eating is firmly underway –
- The pandemic had a real impact on eating patterns, with consumers everywhere claiming to eat fresher, healthier foods, especially fresh produce and food without artificial ingredients. Many are cooking more meals at home, where they have greater control over what they eat.
- Many health food trends have emerged in the last few years but two have become leading. Flexitarianism (eating plant-based food, with only occasional consumption of meat) has gained popularity. While just a small share of the consumers identify as vegan or vegetarian, in 2023 many more consider themselves flexitarians. Also, many consumers are willing to give 100% plant-based alternatives a try. The success of plant-based food is strongly evident, especially in plant-based milk and meat.
Consumers are struggling to practice healthier and more sustainable eating habits.
- Many are uncertain about how to eat healthily and sustainably. Consumers admit to having difficulty understanding what they need to do when it comes to choices on health and sustainability.
- Consumers are also uncertain whether their supermarket stocks the products they need for healthy and sustainable eating.
- It is also difficult to stick to health goals when eating out or ordering take away / home delivery food.
- Most consumers are price-sensitive when it comes to their weekly grocery budget. As inflation rages, consumers face tough choices about the food they buy and consume. As a result, consumers are changing their shopping behaviour to get more for their money, including buying food in bulk, adjusting the quantities purchased, and purchasing a less expensive brand or private label.
Consumer commitment to conscious eating will remain strong. But consumers need help from food companies and retailers to get easy-to-understand product information and ready access to the right stuff.
What are the attitudes and preferences of consumers towards healthy food? How to best address healthy food to consumers? What are the latest trends in healthy food? ADK Insights can help clients stay ahead of the curve and better manage these changing times.