The report, titled Better-for-you Eating Trends, also revealed that less than two in five (38%) consumers agree that healthy foods are worth the added expense, and 44% pay attention to serving sizes.
“Despite the fact that we’re seeing such a widespread and growing interest in healthy foods, relatively few Americans believe their diet is healthy. With consumers largely wary of even regulator-approved health food options, marketing healthy foods to sceptical consumers requires far more than merely an on-pack promise,” said Billy Roberts, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel.
“The key to attracting these consumers is convincing them that products actually deliver on the healthy attributes they promise and that they are truly good for consumers and their families,” he added.
Picking up the pace: Wellness outpaces overall growth
While brands need to strive harder than relying on their on-pack ‘better-for-you’ message to win over buyers, the claims still work. Data from Nielsen revealed that in several traditionally indulgent categories, “products with wellness claims are outpacing total category growth,” Andrew Mandzy, Nielsen director of strategic insights, told FoodNavigator-USA.
“For example, volume sales of salty snacks with a natural or organic claim on the package grew 5.7% and 23.4%, respectively, over the 52 weeks ended July 30, 2016, compared with growth of 2.6% for the total category,” he added.
But which labels matter?
Mintel’s survey found that Americans appear to be largely distrusting of food brands—only 14% believe regulatory approval indicates a food is healthy, and just 16% trust the health claims on food and beverage packages.
Furthermore, only 23% of consumers agree that the US Dietary Guidelines are good for them. So which health and wellness labels are the ones pulling in the buyers and garnering attention?
“Today’s health-conscious consumers are staying away from products containing high-fructose corn syrup (50%), sugar (47%), trans fat (45%) and saturated fat (43%),” according to the report. Additionally, 28% believe a food is unhealthy if it has artificial ingredients, with consumers actively avoiding products with elements described as ‘artificial,’ such as artificial sweeteners (43%), artificial preservatives (38%) and artificial flavors (35%).
Not just free-from
And being ‘free-from something’ isn’t the only signifier of health or wellness for US consumers—what’s actually inside also has swaying power. “Well ahead of other ingredients, consumers are interested in protein (63%), fiber (61%) and whole grains (57%) when purchasing foods they consider to be healthy,” according to the report.
“While many consumers are avoiding certain ingredients when purchasing better-for-you foods, Americans are seeking out foods with added health attributes, namely protein, fiber and whole grains, indicating an opportunity for foods with added-health attributes to target consumers with health claims on-pack,” concluded Roberts.