The Analyst’s Take: Consumers move away from specific diet labels

Nutrition Business Journal and NEXT Data and Insights conducted research in April with over 2,500 U.S. consumers on the ways people are eating today and how that has changed over the last decade. Extensive commentary and insights are featured in the newly released Ways of Eating: Special Report, defining the patterns of eating and consumer behavior in the marketplace today.

Our research indicates most people have a goal of being healthy, but everyone’s definition of “healthy” is different. A plurality of surveyed consumers, 43%, said they don’t follow a specific diet or regimen. Other respondents said they focus more on lifestyle choices than on diet. Looking at the ways of eating ranked after that; respondents reported reducing sugar, salt, fat and calories, with 19%, 15%, 13%, and 12% respectively. When asked about nutrition and exercise, about 40% of consumers said the “greatest positive impact on my health is nutrition” compared with 26% who said the “greatest impact on my health is exercise.”

When consumers eat and shop in 2022, they reported paying attention to protein, vitamins/minerals and sugar the most, at 43%, 42% and 42%, respectively, all of which have increased since 2013. However, over time, natural and organic has had the most movement. When compared to NEXT research from 2021, the two highest increases—at 6  and 5 percentage points, respectively—are “I make sure that most of the food I consume is organic/natural” and “I want to learn more about natural and organic foods.” The most notable shift though, is that the category with the largest change from 2013 to 2022 was organic and natural ingredients, which increased an impressive 12 points.

These shifts in our ways of eating make sense—only 23% of consumers feel “extremely satisfied” with their current health, and while Gen Z and millennials over index at higher satisfaction levels, they are still only 29% and 33% respectively. Understanding the motivations behind these ways of eating and approaches to health will help meet these consumer needs.

For more information, check out NBJ’s Ways of Eating Report.

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