CHICAGO – The latest consumer insights on transparency, the fourth report in a series from FMI — The Food Industry Transparency 2023 Report Cover Low ResAssociation and NIQ (NielsenIQ), demonstrate that grocery shoppers have prioritized product transparency at an increased rate over the last five years. The research was presented today at the Center for Food Integrity Transparency Summit in Chicago, a gathering that encourages the food and agriculture supply chain to exchange new ideas in the context of innovation, sustainability and operational endeavors.

Highlights of the FMI/NIQ Transparency Trends 2023 report found that the proportion of grocery shoppers saying transparency is important increased seven percentage points from 2018 to 2023 (69% and 76%, respectively). Notably, this latest research—which explores shifting U.S. grocery shopper perspectives and topics such as front-of-pack labels, use of digital research tools and attitudes about online versus in-store shopping—suggests that neither the COVID-19 pandemic nor significant economic challenges inhibited (distracted) shoppers’ desire for increased information from the food industry.

FMI VP of Research and Insights Steve Markenson said, “U.S. consumers frankly told us that their definition of transparency was a ‘complete list of ingredients,’ further demonstrating the benefits of easily understandable information; nutritional and production details; and sustainability information relating to the environment, animal welfare and even the specific usage of ingredients.”

Sherry Frey, VP of Total Wellness for NIQ, says the drumbeat for product transparency will continue to intensify, as ingredients now share top billing with quality and value as the three most important purchase considerations. “The level of discernment consumers are taking with the products they are purchasing has continued to increase—even during the lingering inflationary times,” according to Frey, noting that NIQ has seen a steady uptick of claims in the areas of “free-from,” “clean label” and “environmentally sustainable,” while “upcycled” and “regenerative” are rapidly emerging.

“As retail trading partners plan strategies for growth in 2024 and beyond, it is critical to understand the key consumer drivers and nuances of their purchasing behavior to achieve growth in the face of lingering high cost-of-living pressures. Simply put,” Frey continued, “the more product information retailers and brands can provide, the better.” 

“The food industry upholds its investments in enhancing communication with consumers,” Markenson noted, “as shoppers told us they reward brands that provide information with their trust and loyalty, even suggesting that the more transparent a brand, the more likely they could be persuaded to switch. The report outlines how food manufacturers and retailers should respect the shopper journey and embrace their discovery processes.”

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About NIQ

NIQ is the world’s leading consumer intelligence company, delivering the most complete understanding of consumer buying behavior and revealing new pathways to growth. In 2023, NIQ combined with GfK, bringing together two industry leaders with unparalleled global reach. With a holistic retail read and the most comprehensive consumer insights—delivered with advanced analytics through state-of-the-art platforms—NIQ delivers the Full View. An Advent International portfolio company with operations in 100+ markets, NIQ covers more than 90% of the world’s population.