The ninth annual report finds that nine in 10 shoppers agree that certain foods like fruits, vegetables and grains contain naturally occurring substances that can reduce the risk of getting certain diseases. In pursuing these health-directed objectives, consumers are increasingly purchasing natural-oriented food products, herbal and homeopathic remedies, organically grown foods and foods free of artificial additives and preservatives.
Nearly every shopper in the survey (95 percent) says their purchases are affected by some health concern ¯ whether it’s controlling fat, lowering cholesterol levels, managing or reducing disease risk, slowing the aging process or following their doctor’s advice. The need for vitamin and herbal supplementation is also a driving factor, with shoppers more often purchasing foods fortified with vitamins and minerals, or with herbal additives such as ginseng, echinacea and gingko biloba.
Supermarkets Fast Becoming One-Stop, Whole Health Shop
Supermarkets continue to play a greater role in the self-care movement by not only providing more health-oriented products, but by also offering health services such as blood pressure checks and diabetes screening, and by providing a broad range of health and nutrition information.
Among the various formats presented, 42 percent of the shoppers surveyed indicated that the typical supermarket does the best job in providing all of the products they need to maintain their health.
Four out of five shoppers using fortified foods (83 percent) buy them most often at a supermarket, as do 73 percent of the people buying additive/preservative-free foods. Two thirds (66 percent) of shoppers surveyed buy their organically grown foods at the supermarket.
In other purchases, one-third of the shoppers (34 percent) buy over-the-counter medicines at the supermarket, with nearly equal numbers preferring discount stores and drugstores. One-quarter (26 percent) buy vitamins and minerals from food retailers, about equal to those preferring discount stores and drugstores for these purchases. Around 20 percent buy homeopathic and herbal remedies at supermarkets, but fewer than one in five shop there most often for in-home diagnostic tests, prescription medicines and aromatherapy products.
Supermarkets Serve as an Important Information Resource
While books and magazines remain the most popular sources of health and nutrition information, supermarkets can tap into this consumer “need for knowledge” as a way of promoting their whole health offerings.
According to the survey, 50 percent of shoppers place high importance on in-store health and nutrition information, and grocery personnel who can answer health-related questions. Accordingly, the survey suggests that retailers may benefit by giving information racks more prominent placement in the stores.
In addition, store promotions such as free seminars and store tours are only a few of the ways that retailers can strengthen their role in providing options for consumers to learn
about health and nutrition, thereby strengthening their role to meet consumers’ objectives.
Meeting Consumer’s “Ideal” in Supermarket Whole Health Offerings
Although location, prices and availability of high-quality meats and produce top the list of features consumers look for in selecting a supermarket, the survey finds that the availability of whole health products and services figures prominently as well. In fact, 86 percent of consumers want one store to meet all of their food and health needs.
Respondents said it is very important that their “ideal” supermarket contain the following features:
- Access to health and nutrition information (53 percent), including personnel who can answer questions about health and nutrition (45 percent).
- Healthy prepared foods (43 percent), organic foods (28 percent), and products grouped by health needs (34 percent).
- In-store pharmacy (45 percent); a broad selection of vitamins and minerals
(41 percent); over-the-counter medications (30 percent); and an assortment of herbal and natural remedies (27 percent).
In addition to whole health solutions, Shopping for Health 2000 examined consumers’ use of organic foods. The results indicated that six in 10 shoppers purchase organic foods at the supermarket; three in 10 go to a health food store; and two in 10 made organic food purchases at farmers’ markets. Thirty-seven percent of shoppers surveyed regularly buy organically grown foods to maintain their health, and 44 percent reported an organic food purchase in the previous six months.
Consumer Opinions on Genetically Modified Foods
Despite the media attention on genetic modification of foods, shoppers demonstrated limited knowledge about this topic. Regardless of their knowledge level, however, most shoppers find genetic modification acceptable for a variety of applications. Specifically, seven in 10 shoppers say genetic modification is acceptable to grow foods that are disease-resistant. Two-thirds feel it is acceptable to grow foods to improve taste and 63 percent say it’s acceptable to lower fat content. Sixty-two percent feel genetic modification is acceptable to grow foods that are insect-resistant, and the same number approve of the process to grow foods that will stay fresh longer.
Overall, 38 percent feel that all of the suggested uses are acceptable and 83 percent find at least one valid use of genetic modification. Only 9 percent say all suggested applications are unacceptable.
To obtain a copy of Shopping for Health 2000, contact FMI Publications and Video Sales (202/220-0723) or visit the FMI Web site (http://www.fmi.org/pub/).