Do you wonder why major supermarket chains and national restaurant operators are adopting more “better for you,” natural and organic foods? Because consumers are demanding it.
Earth Balance, a company that produces a line of plant-based foods, surveyed 2,000 consumers recently to find out what they are eating and why. The survey found more people are seeking “better-for-you” foods, especially dairy- and meat-free alternatives.
Anyone who has been paying attention to the news knows the demand for “better for you” food isn’t new. What’s surprising, however, is that the interest keeps on growing.
When asked what factors are most important to them when shopping for food, respondents cited buying local (37%), organic (33%) and non-GMO (30%). They are also more willing to try new better-for-you-foods.
As the “better for you” market has expanded, it helps to know which types of products consumers are most interested in. This is just as important to employees looking for something to eat in a break room as it is to the homeowner shopping at the supermarket.
The most-tried foods, according to the survey, are healthy snacks, dairy alternatives and oil alternatives.
Dairy alternatives ranked as the leading better-for-you food, cited by 29% of respondents. Superfoods (e.g., chia, acai and quinoa), alternative snacks (e.g., gluten-free crackers, nut butters and Greek yogurt) and alternative oils (e.g., avocado, coconut and sunflower) tied for second place at 28%. Plant-based proteins, such as hemp hearts, lentils and spirulina, ranked third at 18%.
Among better-for-you foods, participants said the ones they consume most often are green tea (33%), dairy alternatives (31%), kale (21%) and quinoa (16%). The ones they consume least often are farro (2%), maca powder (3%), wheat berries (3%) and nutritional yeast (3%).
Whole Foods Market cited “plant-based everything” as a top 2016 trend to watch. Earth Balance’s study bears out this prediction, showing consumers are more accepting of this newer food movement.
Forty-two percent of consumers said they know more about plant-based diets now compared to five years ago. Forty-three percent said they are more likely to try plant-based alternatives today. Thirteen percent reported trying a vegetarian lifestyle.
What’s more, over half said they’ve tried dairy-free alternatives like dairy-free milk, cheese and yogurt. Sixty-three percent said they have tried plant-based protein alternatives, with tofu, meatless burgers and meatless hot dogs topping the list.
Keep in mind that people want to see these products everywhere they choose to snack or eat a meal, including in the office break room.
Price, cited by 64%, is the main reason consumers hold back from trying a new type of health food. Concern about not liking its taste or texture ranked second. Lack of store availability ranked third. That said, approximately a third are willing to pay an additional $2.00 or more for a better-for-you alternative to a traditional food item.
While Americans are more open to better-for-you foods, they still love to snack. When asked which snacks they find most tempting, respondents ranked chocolate in the top spot (31%), followed by potato chips (16%) and ice cream (14%). Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they eat a snack that they know is not healthy at least once per day.