Analysis: Shopping For Health Presents New Attitudes and Awareness among U.S. Consumers

June 23, 2016

JUNE 23, 2016 – CHICAGO – While the vast majority of U.S. grocery shoppers (82%) put in at least some effort into healthy eating, far fewer (34%) put in "a lot" of effort, according to the latest research from Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Rodale Inc. The 2016 Shopping for Health analysis was released at FMI Connect on a panel featuring some of the leading authorities from food retail, manufacturing and consumer trends on nutrition, lifestyle and health.

Today’s food shoppers understand the important role food choices play in their health, but they still struggle to make changes to improve their food selection. Results of the 2016 Shopping for Health study reveal that half of shoppers consider themselves overweight (51%) and say they need motivation to help them eat healthfully (48%). The research also suggests that parents want to have more family meals each week – while seven in 10 (71%) would eat dinner with their kids every night in their ideal world, fewer (57%) actually do so – and parents are looking to food retailers to assist them.

FMI’s Chief Health and Wellness Officer and Executive Director, FMI Foundation, Susan Borra, commented that the study’s findings are a testament to what food retailers can offer their customers when it comes to their health needs or aspirations. She said, "If two-in-three shoppers agree that food choices affect their health, but half say they struggle to find the motivation to eat healthfully, then grocery stores are uniquely positioned to be key partners in health and wellness for the communities they serve. Food retailers have the opportunity to help their customers find and distinguish dietary choices, offer weight management solutions and share convenient meal ideas that help feed families."

Shopping for Health examines the various ways in which health and nutritional concerns affect food buying and eating decisions, and measures changes over time; it gauges food shoppers’ awareness, interests and attitudes regarding food, health and nutrition; it evaluates consumers’ efforts to manage eating and diets; and measures parents’ attitudes and activities regarding meals for children.

Borra noted, "The positive message is that consumers are actively making changes in their diets, and food retailers are poised to pick up on their shoppers’ queues." Compared to the prior year, three-in-four shoppers switched to a healthier version of at least one type of food, with healthier yogurt (32%), milk (27%), and bread (26%) topping the list. In addition, shoppers are now buying more whole grain (43%), high fiber (41%), multigrain (39%), all natural (38%), low sodium (33%) and unprocessed whole foods (33%).

Melanie Hansche, editor-in-chief of Rodale’s Organic Life, presented the study findings at FMI Connect. She observed: "Many of the findings correlate with some of the broader movements and trends we have seen in the market, namely food as medicine, the importance of eating locally, and the shift from diet food to real, whole foods. The growth in organics also reflects the shift to authenticity and provenance that’s part of a bigger story."

Executives from Unilever, Price Chopper Supermarkets and Rodale joined FMI on the panel. The report is downloadable and available on FMI’s website here.

Survey Methodology:

Shopping for Health was conducted by GfK on behalf of Rodale and FMI. From November 11 to 17, 2015, a total of 1,404 U.S. adults were interviewed online.

In order to qualify, respondents had to have gone grocery shopping in the past month and be responsible for at least 50% of their household’s grocery shopping. Final data were weighted by age by sex, region, race/ethnicity, and household income, according to the March 2014 Current Population Survey.

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Food Marketing Institute proudly advocates on behalf of the food retail industry. FMI’s U.S. members operate nearly 40,000 retail food stores and 25,000 pharmacies, representing a combined annual sales volume of almost $770 billion. Through programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations, FMI offers resources and provides valuable benefits to more than 1,225 food retail and wholesale member companies in the United States and around the world. FMI membership covers the spectrum of diverse venues where food is sold, including single owner grocery stores, large multi-store supermarket chains and mixed retail stores. For more information, visit www.fmi.org and for information regarding the FMI foundation, visit www.fmifoundation.org