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Fewer consumers give a lot less thought to the healthfulness and ingredients today than they did 10 years ago, according to the International Food Information Council’s 2022 Food and Health Survey.

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That may seem surprising given all of the recent research into the growing interest in health and wellness. But IFIC’s latest report suggests that the picture is more nuanced, specifically that many of today’s big trends – including both health / wellness and sustainability – show big generational differences. For example, Millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers to have thought about both food safety (50% vs 35%) and ingredients (44% vs 35%).

On the sustainability front, the overall picture has remained the same since 2012 – 66% of consumers say they consider whether foods and beverages are produced in a sustainable way. However, the percentage of consumers aged 18-49 who think about sustainability has gone up, while the percentage of consumers aged 50+ who think about sustainability has gone down.

Source: International Food Information Council. 2022 Food & Health Survey. 18 May 2022. []
Here are some other ways IFIC found that consumer preferences have changed:

  • Product familiarity – 33% of consumers say product familiarity has a great impact on food purchases. This is up from 23% in 2018. Baby Boomers are more likely to consider familiarity important.
  • Environmental impact – 52% of consumers say their food choices have a moderate or significant impact on the environment. This is up 10 percentage points from last year. Millennials are nearly twice as likely as Baby Boomers to believe their choices have an environmental impact.
  • Price increases – 83% of consumers have seen an increase in food prices over the past year. Baby Boomers are much more likely than other generations to have noticed price increases.
  • Online shopping – 25% of consumers purchase groceries online at least once a week. This is up from 20% in 2020 and 11% in 2021.
  • Dieting – 52% of consumers followed an eating pattern or diet in the past year. In 2021, only 39% did so. Although consumers in all age groups are dieting more, the largest increases were among consumers aged 18-49. The most common patterns are clean eating (16%), mindful eating (14%), and calorie counting (13%).
  • Snacking – 73% of consumers snack at least once a day. This is up from 58% in 2021. The most common reasons for snacking are “I am hungry or thirsty,” “Snacks are a treat for me,” and “I need energy.”

This is just a snapshot of IFIC’s findings. For more insights, download the full report.

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