‘Connect the dots’ between products and healthy eating, says NPD

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Healthy eating Nutrition Npd

Food manufacturers should focus on communicating specific product benefits rather than educating consumers generally about healthy eating, according to a new report from the NPD Group.

The market researcher said that most US adults understand the general principles of healthy eating and the importance of eating healthily, but the way in which this translates into behaviors varies according to generation.

Director of product development at NPD and author of Healthy Eating Strategies by Generation ​Dori Hickey said: “Educating consumers about proper health and nutrition need not be the primary goal for food manufacturers. Connecting the dots for consumers in terms of a product benefit to a fundamental characteristic of healthy eating is more the challenge.”

Across generations, US adults tend to be deficient in fruits, vegetables and dairy, but those aged 55 and over tend to have healthier diets than younger generations, possibly driven by an increase in health problems, NPD said.

“It comes down to adult consumers needing help to improve the healthfulness of their diets,”​ said Hickey. “Knowing which consumer groups need the most help and understanding how to address consumers’ current and future needs and desires for healthy food is the opportunity for food and beverage marketers.”

According to the organization, most consumers report seeking out healthful, nutritious foods as their primary or secondary driver in deciding what to eat or drink, with taste and price/value rounding out the top three motivations for younger generations. For older consumers, freshness replaces price/value in the ranking.

The market research organization’s findings are consistent with previous research looking at US consumer attitudes to healthy eating and their how actual eating habits compare. A recent survey from the Nielsen Company, for example, found that most Americans have good intentions when it comes to eating a healthy diet, but that expense and an unwillingness to sacrifice taste were the top reasons consumers gave for not eating as healthily as they would like.

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