Nearly Half of Consumers Paying More Attention to Calories Compared to Years Past;
One-Third of Shoppers Use Computer “Apps” to Create Grocery Lists

New York, NY — June 14, 2010 – The conversation of health and weight maintenance is spreading to the supermarket aisles according to Shopping for Health 2010, the 18th in a yearly study released today by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Prevention, and published by Rodale Inc. With a keen eye to nutrition labels, nearly half (43%) of consumers polled said they’re paying more attention to calorie counts than they were two years ago.

Technology is also invading the aisles as one-third of shoppers find it appealing to use smartphone “Apps” to create grocery lists. More than 25 percent of shoppers also opt to get updates from retailers on sales and specials via an “App;” one-quarter of shoppers like the idea of using “Apps” to choose healthy items.

“Year after year, the Shopping for Health survey delivers the most consumer-centric health news and information and reinforces the strength and viability of Prevention within the food category," says SVP/Publisher of Prevention, Mary Murcko. “Together with FMI, we proudly present valuable and unique information to advertisers and decision-makers alike, during a time when food and health are the two top intertwining conversation topics.”

“This research is extremely valuable as supermarkets promote the health and wellness of their customers as a central part of their mission. Most important, it tells us what consumers need to learn about eating healthy foods and how we can best help them as company dietitians teach customers how to improve their diets through store tours, cooking classes and other educational programs,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI president and chief executive officer.

Prevention’s Director of Consumer Insights, Cary Silvers, says, “America's calorie conundrum: more attention does not mean more precision. While many American's are paying more attention to calories, they have a long way to go towards knowing how many they consume in an average day. This is the next line of opportunity in calorie management.”

The Concern Over Calories

  • Calorie counts are not new, but the increased level of concern is evident in findings such as more shoppers are paying attention to the counts, and one-quarter of shoppers are buying more low or zero calorie products than last year.

  • However, more attention to calories does not mean more precision. The majority of shoppers just loosely try to watch how many calories they consume.

  • 9% actively count how many calories they consume

  • 50% say they just watch their calories

  • 41% don’t watch at all

  • Many shoppers greatly underestimate what they consume by meal type. In total, the majority of them believe they consume the daily-recommended amount of calories.

  • Breakfast – 60% say they consume 300 or fewer calories (Bagel with low fat cream cheese= 460 calories)

  • Lunch – 61% say they consume 300-500 calories (Turkey sandwich on whole wheat=480 calories)

  • Snack – 74% say they consume 300 or fewer calories (4 Chocolate chip cookies=640 calories)

  • Dinner – 65% say they consume 500 or more calories (¼ chicken and sides=640 calories)

Taxing Un-Healthy Foods

  • In the discussion to tax unhealthy foods to lower consumption and help obesity rates, shoppers are not in agreement quite yet.

  • 25% of shoppers say it is “OK” to tax unhealthy foods.

  • Of those who said yes, fast food received the most votes to be taxed (70%) with soda (67%) and items with trans fats (64%) not far behind.

  • Interestingly, Bacon (19%) and Butter (10%) are safer in the eyes of consumers.

Apps To Make Shopping and Eating Healthier Easier
“Apps” make smartphones even more useful and a small but growing number of shoppers see the potential of “Apps” for making cost-effective shopping and healthy eating, easier.

  • Shoppers say “Apps” are appealing (whether or not they own a smartphone)

  • 33% – to create a grocery list

  • 28% – from retailer to notify you of sales and specials

  • 25% – to choose healthy items when shopping

The Economy & Shopping

  • Shoppers continue to eat at home vs. dining out and spend at the supermarket or local food retailer.

  • 24% of shoppers are spending more at the grocery store than before the economic crash.

  • In the store, many shoppers continue to favor necessities over impulse purchases.

  • 77% buy only what they need

  • 53% cut out buying premium versions

  • Impulse buying is dominated by two words –“on sale”; 45% buy on-sale items, even if not on their list.

  • Private label buying is considerable: 48% switched to a store brand in 2009.

New and Healthy Meal Choices

  • More meal preparation leads shoppers to do the following...

  • 35% say they did more cooking from scratch vs. the previous year

  • 34% of shoppers say they tried more new recipes vs. the previous year

  • 24% say they used a slow cooker more than in the previous year

  • 52% of shoppers tried a new healthy recipe in the past year. Type of healthy recipe they tried:

  • 69% chicken

  • 59% salad

  • 52% soup

  • 46% pasta/rice dish

  • 41% fish

  • 32% sandwich

  • 30% vegetarian dish

  • 30% dessert

  • 17% steak

  • When trying to eat healthier, shoppers do this half or more of the time.

  • 58% – Swapping: opt for the healthier version of a product

  • 52% – Switching: switch one product for a healthier alternative

  • 47% – Stopping: stop buying less-healthy products

  • 47% – Cutting: continue to buy less-healthy products, just eat less or smaller portions

  • 46% – Adding: buy healthy products not purchased before

Top Label Concerns

  • Sodium levels are the new top label concern (66%), tied with fat (66%) and followed closely by sugar/artificial sweeteners (65%) and calories (60%).

  • Compared to last year, more than one-third of shoppers say they’re buying products with more grains (whole grain, 49%; multigrain, 40%), fiber (39%), low-fat (37%) and low-sodium (34%).

The Shopping for Health survey of America’s supermarket shoppers examines their interests and attitudes regarding health and nutrition, their efforts to manage diets, and the ways in which health and nutritional concerns play out in buying decisions at the supermarket. To purchase Shopping for Health 2010, visit the FMI Store at or call 202.220.0723.

Methodology: This report is based on a national online survey of more than 1,423 adult shoppers, conducted by Harris Interactive in December 2009 on behalf of FMI and Prevention. All respondents had primary or equally shared responsibility for his or her household’s grocery shopping.

Food Marketing Institute (FMI) conducts programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations on behalf of its 1,500 member companies — food retailers and wholesalers — in the United States and around the world. FMI’s U.S. members operate approximately 26,000 retail food stores and 14,000 pharmacies. Their combined annual sales volume of $680 billion represents three-quarters of all retail food store sales in the United States. FMI’s retail membership is composed of large multi-store chains, regional firms and independent supermarkets. Its international membership includes 200 companies from more than 50 countries. FMI’s associate members include the supplier partners of its retail and wholesale members.

Prevention is the #1 healthy lifestyle brand in the U.S., with a magazine audience of more than 10.2 million readers as well as the top online health magazine destination ( with 2.6 million unique visitors each month, 22 million page views and 1.3 million in newsletter distribution. Prevention also publishes branded books—most recently 400 Calorie Fix and the best-selling Flat Belly Diet! franchise—special-interest publications, bookazines, DVDs, and 16 international editions. In 2009, nearly 50 million Prevention-branded products were sold.