Consumers Becoming More Calorie‑, Sodium-Conscious

Health and weight management are on the minds and plates of consumers nationwide, with 43% of surveyed consumers paying more attention to calorie counts than they were two years ago.  In the new Shopping for Health survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Food Marketing Institute and Prevention, more than 1,423 adult shoppers polled said sodium levels are the new top nutrition label concern (66%), tied with fat (66%) and followed closely by sugar/​artificial sweeteners (65%) and calories (60%).  Compared with 2009, more than one-​third of shoppers say they're buying products with more grains (whole grain, 49%; multigrain, 40%), fiber (39%), low-​fat (37%) and low-​sodium (34%).

"This research is extremely valuable as supermarkets promote the health and wellness of their customers as a central part of their mission. Most important, it tells us what consumers need to learn about eating healthy foods and how we can best help them as company dietitians teach customers how to improve their diets through store tours, cooking classes and other educational programs," said Leslie Sarasin, FMI president and CEO.

But while 25% of shoppers said it's acceptable for the taxation of unhealthy foods, one-​third of shoppers are attracted to utilizing grocery list apps and 24% are spending more time in the grocery store than before the economic crash, precision is not necessarily on the minds of consumers, the survey noted:

  • 9% actively count how many calories they consume
  • 50% say they just watch their calories
  • 41% don't watch at all

"America's calorie conundrum: more attention does not mean more precision," said Cary Silvers, Prevention's director of consumer insights. "While many American's are paying more attention to calories, they have a long way to go towards knowing how many they consume in an average day. This is the next line of opportunity in calorie management."

[Source:  Shopping for Health survey.  Harris Interactive for Food Marketing Institute and Rodale/​Prevention Magazine. 15 Jun. 2010.  Web. 18 Jun. 2010. ]