We are what we eat: Fads and fundamentals for 2018

February 20, 2018

Healthy, socially conscious food purchases will be a priority for 67% of Americans this year, according to a recent survey by Label Insight, a strategic Nielsen partner that specializes in ingredient and attribute data analysis.

When it comes to additives, 68% of U.S. consumers that they are looking for products that are “free from” certain undesirable ingredients—from artificial colors to malt flour to sulphur dioxide—across the store, including dairy, grocery, dog food, and various non-food categories.

Shoppers also are looking for healthful ingredients that are being substituted for those that are not so good for you. For example, sales of products containing cauliflower as an ingredient grew 71% in dollars in the last year, while products with kale and cranberries also experienced positive dollar growth (13% and 9%, respectively).

Vegetables also are being substituted for meat and dairy protein sources. Sales of plant-based protein options are growing across the store, with 20.7% dollar growth in frozen prepared foods that are plant-based, 18.9% dollar growth for fully cooked plant-based meats and 14.1% dollar growth for plant-based diet and nutrition products.

What’s more, Americans increasingly are turning to food as a form of medicine, leveraging the health benefits that certain ingredients bring to the table. In the beverages category, for example, ingredients described as an “excellent source of protein,” “cold-pressed,” and “probiotic” are driving significant.

And it doesn’t end with edibles: shampoos and conditioners containing strawberries as an ingredient grew 107% in the last year.

Finally, there is one other ingredient that shoppers are avoiding: sugar. Nationwide, 22% of Americans say they already are taking matters into their own hands by restricting their sugar intake, and 50% of Americans say they are planning to eat less sugar or buy “no sugar added” products this year, according to a survey by Label Insight. And at the shelf, how products are sweetened matters. Notably, sales of products that contain non-caloric sweeteners and are free from artificial sweeteners grew 16% in dollars in the last year.

Research contact: genevieve.aronson@nielsen.com

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