To your health – and the environment’s

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Environmental and health concerns are merging, creating a huge surge in demand for products that meet consumer notions of “change”, according to new HealthFocus International research.

The global nutrition market researcher broadcast its latest consumer insights at the Healthy Foods European Summit in London last week, where it noted the massive importance many consumers give to all matters environmental.

The researcher found 67 per cent of respondents agreed that environmental issues impact food selection, compared to only 31 per cent in 2003. The same number was concerned about highly processed foods whereas only 37 per cent were five years ago.

Label information such “Grown without pesticides” is the third biggest influencer of brand selection behind price and taste.

The next most important were: “Contains only natural ingredients”; “no preservatives”; health claims; content claims; environmentally friendly packaging and convenience.

President of HealthFocus Europe, Peter Wennstrom, said more consumers were putting their environmental concerns into practice by buying products that demonstrated a commitment to sustainability.

“Health goes hand in hand with environmental motivation,”​ he said, adding the healthiness of foods remained a decisive factor in food selection.

The 2008 survey featured 18 countries and more than 10000 grocery shoppers from countries such as China, Mexico, France, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Australia, the Philippines, India and the UK.


Wennstrom noted how consumer food buying preferences had over the years moved from convenience to premiumisation to health and wellbeing and now to the idea of change – of consumers wanting to know that the food products they buy are contributing to a more sustainable food production system.

“Consumer focus is now on the whole value chain and the total consequences of consumption,”​ Wennstrom said. ”Make it healthy for me and the planet. Make me feel good about my choices.”

He said consumers were moving up the Maslow Pyramid which ranked choices ranging from survival at the bottom to matching life philosophies with food choices at the top. Consumers were getting closer to the ideal of “feeling good long term”,​ he said.

Health focus

Health Focus found the number one health concern was toxins in the body, which 47 per cent of those surveyed were concerned about. Other concerns included lack of mental sharpness (29%); stress (33%); lack of energy (37%) and GI/digestive problems (39%).

These concerns were all greater than in 2003. Consumers were less concerned about diabetes, hypertension, cancer and cardiovascular issues.

The main health condition affecting global consumers was colds and flus.

Family health is the most important reason for choosing healthy foods, with 28 per cent of respondents saying this compared with 14 per cent in 2003.

“Free-from” products had also shown steep growth.

HealthFocus began researching US consumer nutrition trends in 1990 and went international in 2000.

Related topics: Suppliers, Markets and Trends

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