More Americans are reading labels and considering factors such as sustainability as they try to figure out which foods to eat, while opinions about the healthfulness of animal protein haven’t changed much in the last year, according to a new, wide-ranging survey on consumer attitudes toward food.
In the survey of 1,003 adults by the International Food Information Council Foundation, 47 percent of Americans said they look at the ingredients list on food and beverage packages when deciding what to purchase, up from 40 percent in 2015.
Nearly half said they read an article or book, or watched a documentary, about the food system in the past year. About half of those people changed their food purchases as result.
Almost three in five people said their opinions about animal protein had not changed in the last year, but 12 percent said they now perceive it as more healthful and 15 percent see it as less healthful.
Among the survey’s findings:
— One-quarter of Americans changed their diets in the past year, most notably by adding more fruits and vegetables.
— Thirty-five percent of Americans define a “healthy” food as one that does not contain (or has low levels) of certain components such as fat and sugar, the top response when asked in an open-ended question.
— Consumers define “natural” food most often as having no preservatives or additives (29 percent of respondents), having ingredients that come straight from nature and whole foods (19 percent), or having no artificial ingredients or flavors (17 percent).
— Thirty-seven percent report limiting or avoiding packaged foods, with about one-third of those people citing artificial ingredients or preservatives (32 percent) or extra sugar, fat and salt (31 percent) as reasons why.
— The number of Americans whose purchasing decisions are impacted by sustainability increased significantly (41 percent in 2016 vs. 35 percent in 2015), although it continues to trail taste (84 percent), price (71 percent), healthfulness (64 percent) and convenience (52 percent) as purchase drivers.
— More than 70 percent of consumers trust the safety of food produced in their region of the country, while just 24 percent trust the safety of food from another country.
— Consumers were more likely (55 percent vs. 49 percent) to trust the safety of food from a local restaurant than the safety of food from a national chain restaurant.
— A majority of Americans believe that modern agriculture produces nutritious foods (56 percent), safe foods (53 percent), and high-quality foods (51 percent).
Source: meatingplace.com, 5-17-2016