The survey, conducted online by independent market researchers, was carried out on behalf of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) for its US Grocery Shopper Trends report, among a nationally representative sample of 2,048 adults.
It found that despite consumers saying that they are concerned about nutrition, financial worries, compounded with rising fuel and commodity costs, are continuing to impact their behaviors during 2011, and are complicating decisions about healthy eating.
The proportion of survey respondents saying they are ‘very concerned’ about healthy eating has dropped to 39 percent, from 45 percent last year – and although most (82 percent) hold themselves responsible for ensuring the nutritional value of their food, others are looking to food manufacturers (48 percent), government agencies (30 percent) and retailers (29 percent) to make sure the foods they eat are nutritious.
Nevertheless, only 44 percent said they incorporate at least one healthy food into their diet.
The FMI survey revealed that consumer confusion about nutrition labeling is a possible barrier to healthy eating. Although just 17 percent said they could use some help in understanding nutrition information labels, less than one-third (29 percent) said they consider themselves ‘very knowledgeable’ about nutritional information and nearly half (49 percent) said they were not expert in this area.
Food safety confidence rises
The FMI also found that as a result of relatively few high-profile recalls in 2011 and better technology for quick communication of food product recalls, consumer confidence in food safety is at its highest point in seven years. It found that 88 percent of consumers said they are ‘completely’ or ‘somewhat’ confident in the safety of the food sold at the supermarket.
The survey also found that men are much more likely to be comfortable with the safety of food imported from Latin America than women, at 76 percent and 58 percent respectively. Meanwhile, 97 percent of consumers said they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ comfortable with the safety of food grown in the United States.