The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Nutrition Matters

Nutrition Matters

Shoppers and Trends

February 21, 2010

Nutritional information matters more now to consumers than it did a year ago, according to research conducted by the N.G.A. and SupermarketGuru, and underwritten by ConAgra Foods. The research found that four out of ten consumers (37%) find the availability of health information to be “very important” when choosing a store – up six percentage points from 2009.

The 2010 Consumer Panel Survey detailed the purchase influences, eating habits and nutritional concerns of 2,438 consumers between November 2009 and January 2010. Nutritional concerns topped the list of items that consumers are most focused on when examining their food choices.

For three straight years, “the desire to be healthy” and eat “what’s good for us” has ranked first at 22%, far outpacing other responses. Additional consumer concerns surrounding the healthfulness of the foods they eat include “fat content” (13%), “chemical additives” (12%), “salt/sodium content” (10%) and “sugar content” (8%). Sixty percent of consumers say on-pack nutritional ratings matter a great deal.

Consumers also feel better about their own diets in 2010, and they are doing more to stay healthy than they did in years past. Forty-three percent of survey respondents said they “almost always” look at health claims when selecting food at the store – up from 36% in 2009. Only 62% are critical of the foods they eat – down from 68% in 2009.

To improve diet, the vast majority of shoppers (84%) are eating “more fruits and vegetables,” an activity that led the pack a year ago, when the level was one point lower (83%). People are also eating “less junk food/less snack food” (64%), “more whole grains” (58%) and “more fresh foods” (58%). Fifty-two percent of respondents are looking for “less sugar”; 53% are looking for “more fiber.” 

Although nutritionists and dieticians still rank behind the Internet as a source of trustworthy nutritional information, that number popped up slightly from 12% in 2009 to 13% in 2010. Additional sources for trustworthy nutritional info come from the Internet (30%), magazines (11%) and doctors (15%). With grocery coming in low at three percent, retailers have a true opportunity to improve in this area and become the most trustworthy and sought out nutrition resource in their markets.

During this especially sensitive time for American food shoppers, it’s nice to know that the majority of consumers (69%) are pleased with the nutrition and health information that their store is providing, but there is still more to be done. Sixteen percent of consumers would like to see more nutritional and health information offered at their primary store; just 13% of consumers responded that way in 2009. 

Indeed, continued emphasis on nutritional information, both in-store and otherwise, will help stores stand out as desirable destinations in the coming year. With more and more consumers eating the majority of their meals at home, the time is now to step things up, says SupermarketGuru. 

“People are intent on saving, paring frills, buying healthy and cooking smarter,” says “It’s imperative that food stores align their offers with what people want today – because this could well be what people want for years to come.”