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Consumer Shifts in Nutritional Attitudes

How the new nutrition label impacted consumer perception

Revised Nutritional label

In late 2016, new nutrition labels impacted consumer perception of healthy eating. Calories became the core metric of the packaging, and the label increased exposure to serving size in relation to the calories. Historically fats were vilified, but the new label shifted focus to calories and added sugar. Thus, many products higher in protein and fats became regarded less “unhealthy” as part of a balanced diet (CDD Innovation’s Top 10 Trends Report). Footnotes like “calories from fat” were also removed, with callouts to each type of fat present.

The increase in clean-label and “All Natural”

According to NPD Group research, 39% of Americans consume foods or beverages with an “All Natural” or “Natural Ingredients” special label. Additionally, sugar is the #1 item reported that people are looking to cut down on. In the whitepaper “Beyond the Label: A Clean Food Revolution,” prepared by the Kerry group, consumers expect a three-tier approach to clean eating – ingredients, nutrition, and sustainability.

The idea of a clean label has become an all-encompassing term that customers associate with healthy living. Also, clean label products are the cornerstone of “healthy” grocery stores. According to a recent article from Food Navigator, generational shifts in how people look at food labels has shifted dramatically. The Boomer generation are more focused on fat, sodium and calories, while Millennials are more attuned to protein, fiber and vitamins. Overall, it has been reported that 6 out of 10 consumers feel that clean claims align with greater healthfulness (according to a Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report from Technomic). Look for the trend to clean-labels and “all-natural” ingredient statements to grow in the coming years.

How does the new nutrition label impact consumers?

All in all, it boils down to a balanced diet, and consumers are becoming acutely aware of portion control. Look for single-serve packets to take on significant impact in 2018 and beyond, as a result of consumers’ desire for convenience, and restricted portion sizing. Additionally, with restricted portion sizes being defined by the packaging, the appearance of eating healthier accompanies the reduced impact of the nutritional statement (think “100-calorie packs” or “Snack size”).  This perception of healthy eating is driving sales in portion-controlled packaging and increases in “snackification” have shown an influx of single serving cottage cheese, chicken salads, peanut butter, pimento cheeses and other protein-packed grab and go options. Look for this trend to continue, as the average consumer is becoming more attuned to calories as a core dietary restriction, and adjusting perceptions of fats in food.

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