What, When, and Where America Eats A. Elizabeth Sloan | January 2016, Volume 70, No.1

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More than half of consumers say they are trying to avoid sugars in general. For added sugars, the total is 54%; sodium/salt, 53%; trans fats, 49%; HFCS, 48%; calories/saturated fat, 47%; cholesterol, 45%; preservatives, 37%; and MSG, 35%. More than one-third (37%) are avoiding aspartame; 33%, fructose; 31%, saccharin; and 25%, sucralose (IFIC 2015).

Nine of 10 adults say that information about fruit or vegetable content is important to them in determining if a food is healthy. That is followed by preservative-free, cited by 80%; added nutrients or no artificial sweeteners, each 78%; no antibiotics, 73%; unprocessed, natural, or hormone-free, each 72%; organic or non-genetically modified (GM), each 65%; clean, 60%; and real, 54% (Technomic 2014c).

Chemicals are now the No. 1 consumer food safety issue, up 13 percentage points versus 2014 (IFIC 2015). Sales of organic food/beverages jumped 11% in 2014 to $36 billion. Organic fruits/vegetables, dairy, packaged/prepared foods, beverages, snacks, condiments, and meat/poultry/fish posted double-digit growth (OTA 2015). One-quarter of adults buy organic to avoid GM components (Hartman 2014b).

Gluten-free Steel Cut Sides Although the core user base of those who are serious about gluten-free eating has expanded from 7.8% of the U.S. population in 2012 to 9.8% in 2014, interest in the gluten-free trend peaked in 2012 (Packaged Facts 2015d; Sloan 2015). The number of consumers who think that gluten-free is healthier fell from 46% in 2010 to 25% in 2014 (Packaged Facts 2015d). Surprisingly perhaps, “no reason at all” is the No. 1 reason consumers give for buying gluten-free products (Hartman 2015).

One-quarter of meal preparers are regularly making more meatless meals; more than three-quarters (76%) prepare meatless meals at least occasionally. Three-quarters serve eggs as an alternative to a meat-based meal; 61%, beans/lentils; 28%, quinoa/whole grains; and 24%, veggie burgers (FMI 2015b).

Victoria Amory condiments Seventeen percent of adults are making some effort to follow a partially vegetarian diet; those aged 18–24 are most likely to do so; 2% avoided all animal products in 2014 (MSI 2014a). In 2015, 30% of food shoppers experimented with a specialized eating regimen: 8%, vegetarian; 7%, lactose-free; 6%, gluten- or dairy-free; 5%, raw; 4%, juice cleanse/detox or Weight Watchers; and 3%, Atkins diet, Mediterranean diet, Paleo diet, or vegan diet (FMI 2015a).

As Baby Boomers turn 65, they are projected to drive dollar sales of nutrition bars, energy drinks, sports drinks, and refrigerated tea products (IRI 2014). Boomers are also the No. 1 user of protein drinks for energy (Mintel 2014d).

For the first time, health was among the top reasons 145 million consumers bought specialty foods in 2014. Organic was the most sought after gourmet food claim; however, retailers predict non-GM will take its place within three years (SFA 2014).

U.S. functional food sales totaled $51 billion in 2014, up 7.8%, and are projected to reach $62.7 billion by 2018, according to Nutrition Business Journal (Anon. 2015b). Young adults are the most likely to use functional foods/beverages (64% versus 57% of consumers overall) (MSI 2014a).

High cholesterol is the top reason that consumers seek out functional foods, followed by weight loss, high blood pressure, digestive health, heart health, energy, and immunity (Packaged Facts 2014c). Members of one-quarter of U.S. households say that food restrictions, avoidances, intolerances, or allergies have an influence on what they eat (Packaged Facts 2014d).

 

 

A. Elizabeth Sloan, PhD, a professional member of IFT and contributing editor of Food Technology, is president, Sloan Trends Inc., Escondido, Calif. (lizsloan@sloantrend.com).

 

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