AHDB looks at health through the eyes of the consumer – 15 June 2017

More people are choosing food for health reasons at meal times – with a growing trend towards ‘fresh’ and ‘natural’, according to a new report out this week.

Enjoyment and practicality remain the key linchpin for the majority of meal choices but over the last year, health as a reason for choosing food has grown at a faster rate than both of these well-established motives and according to Kantar Worldpanel is up 14% on five years ago.

Findings also show consumers are satisfying their desire to eat healthily by preparing meals from scratch which suggests they want greater control over the ingredients.

These latest trends form part of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s Consumer Insight report, ‘Health Through the Eyes of the Consumer’ – which was unveiled at the Nuffield International Conference in Nottingham.

It examines health from the consumer’s perspective and picks out the challenges and opportunities in meeting the needs of the modern consumer.

AHDB senior analyst Steven Evans said: “The consumer landscape is changing and so are expectations. Health is incredibly important and, by the end of 2016, the proportion of food servings in the home chosen for health reasons stood at 32%. It’s an area which is growing at a faster rate than that of enjoyment so it’s certainly a trend to watch.

“It’s important to remember that health can mean different things to different people. One area more obvious than others is that it’s consumed for a focused health benefit such as being high in fibre or a good source of calcium.

“However, the strongest rise in the last 12 months came from those looking for more natural and less processed food, which we believe points to consumers wanting greater control over what’s going into their meals.

“This provides a good opportunity for producers of fresh and chilled products – especially those who can clearly communicate their health messaging to consumers.”

The industry has recently become more familiar with the term ‘flexitarian’, which can have differing definitions associated – one of which is people who are eating less red meat for health reasons. Currently, 7% of the British population count themselves as flexitarian, putting pressure on the red meat category.

However, the AHDB Consumer Tracker does point towards the majority of people eating about the same level of red meat (74%).

Steve said: “Findings from AHDB’s Consumer Tracker point towards red meat standing behind chicken and fish in consumers’ stating it’s ‘good for you’.

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About The Author

Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.