Clean eating continues to be priority for about half of American consumers, but taste is usually the deciding purchase factor, says a new trends insight report by FONA International.
Citing a survey of registered dietitians, the Geneva, Ill.-based flavor firm says 49 percent of consumers pursue “mindful eating” over dieting, which they achieve through strategy, personalization and taste. However, 64 percent of consumers say taste is the most important attribute in the foods they purchase.
Seeking and avoiding particular ingredients is where strategy comes into play. More than half of consumers look for food and beverages with short ingredient lists, and 70 percent are attracted to foods with the fewest number of ingredients.
Furthermore, 46 percent of consumers indicated they are trying to get more fiber in their diets, followed by protein (42 percent) and vitamins and minerals (40 percent).
Nearly half of consumers said they want foods with fewer pesticides in their diets, while 45 percent want less high fructose corn syrup. Just over 40 percent said they want to consume less sodium.
Some consumers focus on sugar and gluten content. Half of consumers actively seek foods with low sugar, and more than 70 percent are attracted to the claim of no added sugar. Meanwhile, 36 percent of U.S. consumers are avoiding or limiting gluten, but only about 20 percent do so for medical reasons.
Personalization is also a consideration, FONA says, pointing to subscription meal delivery services such as Habit and PlateJoy that cater to customers with special dietary concerns.
“Face it — consumers want their food to be as customizable as possible, no matter the source, especially when they are aligning themselves with a diet principle or plan like paleo or have specific medical issues such as IBS that require certain diet modifications,” the report reads.
Satisfying consumers’ demand for clean products poses challenges for manufacturers, whether they are reformulating existing products or creating clean items from the ground up. Cost, flash point and shelf life are attributes that require balance with taste and use of clean ingredients.