Americans want their food to be natural and not altered to the latest dieting patterns, according to survey research by The NPD Group, Chicago. A global information company, NPD Group released its 29th annual “Eating Patterns in America Report.”
The report finds consumers cutting back consumption of food with 12 “better-for-you” label claims—such as diet, low sugar, caffeine-free, low carb and reduced sodium, among others. Results show Americans cutting back on products with these labels for the sixth straight year to the lowest level in a decade.
Through the year ending February 2014, Americans consumed 1.9 products per person per day with a label that indicated one of the 12 attributes. That is down 27% from 2008, when Americans consumed 2.6 of these products per person per day. Even though these products are meant to demonstrate that they are “better for you” consumers appear to be drawing a different conclusion, says Harry Balzer, senior vice president, The NPD Group’s Chief Food Industry Analyst and author of the NPD Group’s Eating Patterns in America Report.
“It seems we have entered a new phase of marketing health to the American consumer. The first phase, back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, focused on avoiding harmful substances in our food, such as fat, cholesterol and sodium. The second phase, from the mid-90s to just a few years ago, was a move to add more beneficial substances in our diet, such as whole grains, dietary fiber and probiotics. It appears we are in the third phase of the ‘healthy food revolution,’” Balzer says. “In this latest evolution consumers appear to be avoiding foods and beverages that were made to be better for them and instead consumers are going for products that are real and not altered.”
Genetically Modified Foods
Coinciding with the movement away from foods and beverages that have been made to be “better for you” is the increasing concern about genetically altered foods, says Balzer. NPD’s latest research finds more than half of Americans, 57%, are concerned that modified foods pose a health hazard. This figure is up from 46% a decade ago.
“Have we altered the food supply so much to make it better for us, that there is now a backlash against those products? It is looking like we want more of our foods and beverages to be natural,” says Balzer. “I think we’re looking for foods and beverages to be as they were meant to be. It is part of the new ‘healthy food revolution’ happening in this country.”
Read All About It: Manufacturers weigh what to say to convey healthy, wholesome attributes.