New Research: Food Shopping Habits of Millennials

The food landscape is ever changing, and so does the behavior of people. Watershed Communications, a national brand strategy agency, conducted a study regarding the food shopping habits of Millennials. The participants, aged 18 to 35 years old, were asked to describe a food brand that they found authentic. They also had to answer questions related to their food shopping habits.

Millennials are considered the most highly engaged shoppers in all demographics. They are also the ones who have more shopping demands and higher capacities. With this study, companies will be able to understand the food shopping habits of Millennials so that they can apply the information in developing new products to meet their desires.

Food Shopping Habits Among Millennials Shows Branding Wins

Studies have found out that 84% of millennials can describe a particular brand or product that they have just discovered. They learn about brands by reading magazines, but they are keen on finding new brands through the internet. Once they have heard of a particular brand, 61% of millennials will share the information with their friends, family, and acquaintances while 63% plan to buy the product.

Millennials are consistent with the brands and products that they use. According to US food analyst Alexia Howard from the Stanford C. Bernstein, most millennials opt for products that are authentic, simple and consistent.

Millennials habits food shopping

The Need for Authenticity

Millennials have a constant need for authenticity in their products. Authenticity of a brand can be difficult to define, but five characteristics determine the authenticity of a particular product as follows:

  • The use of clean ingredients: Clean ingredients refer to ingredients that are real, natural, organic, and fresh. Clean ingredients are expected and demanded by millennials to ensure that safety and quality of the product that they are buying.
  • High-quality products: Quality products use top-of-the-line ingredients. Quality food products should also have great flavor.
  • True to its mission:  Authentic brands should stay true to its mission. They should stick to their claims.
  • Culturally accurate: A lot of millennials are exposed to global brands, but many of them feel that brands that honor their cultural heritage are more authentic than those that try to appeal to a market audience that are thousands of miles away from them.
  • Transparent: Transparency is imperative in defining the authenticity of products. Transparency divulges the origin of the product and the processes that it has to go through before landing on your table.

Millennials make decisions instantaneously. They are also the most influential. For instance, a 35-year-old mother can make decisions for her children to purchase a particularly healthy snack or she can encourage her parents to buy a product that she has already tried and tested.  It is, therefore, necessary for companies to use this information to create products and a marketing strategy to attract them.

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Baby Boomers Want More Clean Label Products

Clean label is a new term used in the food manufacturing industry to depict food as only using simple and natural ingredients. The trend was expected to appeal to the younger consumers, but clean label products surprisingly appeal to the baby boomers too.

Baby boomers or those who belong in their fifties are the ones who readily patronize baby boomers. According to Dr. Elizabeth Sloan, president of the Sloan Trends, Inc., this particular demographic has both the time and money to buy clean label products.

Why Does It Appeal to The Boomers?

baby boomer clean label products real ingredientsConsumers have different reasons for why they opt for products with such labels. Younger people look for products that are all-natural, gluten-free, and organic. Baby boomers have an even simpler reason, and that is to avoid artificial additives in their products. There is an increasing interest for products with clean labels among baby boomers as this age group is starting to experience many health setbacks. The need for clean and natural food is essential to maintain good health for all ages.

In the research conducted by Sloan Trends, they investigated different products with clean labels and the age groups that patronize them. A whopping 76% of the correspondents who are 65 and above opt for products with clean labels for health reasons while contributors who are 50 to 64 gave a higher value for health at 75%.

The Domino Effect of Clean Label Products

There is a domino effect on this buying trend among older consumers. The report from the Organic Trade Association showed that the food sales of organic products in the United States rose to 11% in 2014 which is equated to $35.9 billion. Moreover, one-third of the consumers opts for organic products because they know that the products are all-natural and do not contain GMOs. Many consumers are confused when differentiating organic, non-GMO and naturally-flavored. For instance, a strawberry shortcake may not contain real strawberries but are just naturally flavored with strawberries.

The thing is, while clean labeling a buzzword among many consumers, it remains a very complicated topic that needs to be defined by the experts. The Food and Drug Administration coupled with the U.S. Department of Agriculture should work hand in hand to make it easier for consumers to understand the new labeling as well as the food that they are buying.

After all, clean labeling boils down to one thing: avoidance of artificial additives. Whether you are a boomer or millennial, people want real food made with real ingredients.

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Simple Ingredients are Attracting Consumers to Natural Products

Many consumers are not only more health conscious but are also becoming more careful shoppers. While many consumers still don’t look at the label, a growing group is focused on natural food and beverage products with simple ingredients.

The Clean Label Trend

There is an increasing number of people opting for clean labels. A clean label is simplifying the list of ingredients in a particular food and beverage product. It is a guiding purchasing behavior for future consumers, but it is a challenging call for food manufacturers.

This particular trend follows the five-ingredient rule which means that products should contain fewer and more recognizable ingredients to become attractive to many consumers. As this trend has evolved over time, efforts have also been made by many food and beverage manufacturers to use simple ingredients, and ensure that the ingredients used are as natural as possible.

Natural Ingredients are Simple Ingredients in Consumer Minds

With a lot of food products marketed as containing natural ingredients, many consumers find it difficult to define what “natural ingredients” means. Unfortunately, many food products claiming to be natural either have legitimate claims or just use buzzwords. The agency responsible for the ingredients’ definitions is the Food and Drug Agency (FDA).

So what are natural ingredients? Food writer Michael Pollan defines such ingredients as those that consumers can easily pronounce and recognize. These ingredients should be as close to their natural form and should not be overly processed nor should they contain additives like dyes or artificial preservatives.

The Demand for Natural Food Products

Clean labels are very popular throughout the industry and the demand for simple ingredients is influencing the sales of many food and beverage products. Many believe this trend is the leading reason for the organic & natural foods industry projected growth to experience a 14% rise in its total sales by 2020.

Unfortunately, this trend has also produced a lot of confusion among the consumers. According to global consumer research firm Mintel, more than 37% of the consumers remains confused about the information indicated in food labels, while 38% are skeptical of the information provided by these companies.

The solution to this confusion is to uphold transparency within the food industry so that this trend will resonate with all consumers. But how do food companies maintain transparency? Aside from making food labels comprehensible by using simple language, companies must reformulate their products using natural ingredients. Instead of using artificial sweeteners, natural alternatives may be employed. Food manufacturing companies can also look into their packaging and opt for a more sustainable look, instead of using plastic or foil packs.

This trend provides a tremendous opportunity for brands to increase revenue but also to connect with consumers. The cherry on top is brands will be seen as more trustworthy if they adopt simple ingredients and create clean labels for their products.

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Food Product Transparency Impacts Purchase Behavior

Consumers today are smarter, as they demand food product transparency when it comes to items they buy in the grocery store. The request for transparency is influencing the evolution of the food industry as it requires many food manufacturers to provide consumers accurate and detailed product information.

According to the 2016 Label Insight Food Revolution Study, most consumers value the transparency of goods since it forms some of the data points that they consider when making a purchasing decision. The report also indicated that most consumers do not trust the information provided because of the way many brands deliver it on their products. The study was conducted by Label Insight, a global leader in providing SaaS data solutions to empower the transparency between food brands and consumers.


What Did The Food Revolution Study Cover?

The study surveyed more than 1,500 consumers and identified how they made different food choices. The survey also covered consumer expectations from the food manufacturers in providing the product information. Recently, many users have developed high expectations when it comes to the transparency of ingredients in the food that they consume.

CMO of Label Insight Patrick Moorhead indicated that the high demand of food product transparency from the consumers is pressuring the industry players and even small food manufacturers to finally provide the information that the consumers require—not only to create better spending decisions—but also to avoid customer confusion and highlight many opportunities that food manufacturers have in innovating their products.


Why Is There a Need for Food Product Transparency?

Food product transparency solves different issues not only within the food manufacturing industry, but also to their consumers. The most important reason for transparency is to eliminate customer confusion. Label Insight’s report revealed that 81% of the consumers admitted to consumption of packaged food products that contained ingredients they do not recognize.

Confusion also affected the purchase decision of many consumers. In the study, 94% of the respondents admitted that they did not know the ingredients in their food, which makes it difficult to make an informed decision. In fact, 83% mentioned that companies that provide food product transparency are more valued by consumers which, in turn, promotes consumer loyalty. Consumers are more likely to switch to brands that provide detailed information on their products.


The Repercussions

Many retailers are pressed with high demands from consumers in terms of providing food product transparency. Food manufacturers cannot simply ignore such demands as many see their customers turning to their competitors. This movement presented many opportunities for emerging brands to gain a chunk of the market and secure loyalty from the dismayed or discouraged consumers.

Brands are always in a position to develop ways to improve the long-term relationship with their customers. Food product transparency is another form of the clean label movement, and it is essential to success over the next ten years.

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Sodium Related Label Claims Grew Sales by 3% in 2015

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) noted that the average American consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily. The agency issued a warning that too much sodium can have serious repercussions on our health, which includes hypertension and the risk of various cardiovascular diseases. They drafted guidelines that are intended to reduce the daily intake of sodium by 2,300 mg. Americans may start cutting back on their favorite, salt overloaded, comfort foods as companies use new sodium label claims to their advantage.

The Dangers of Too Much Sodium

Sodium is a widely popular food additive and flavoring. However, excess amounts can be dangerous for your health. Excessive consumption of sodium can lead to a plethora of diseases. One of the negative effects of too much salt in the diet is an increase in blood pressure.

When too much salt is ingested, it holds or retains the liquid in the body that contributes to the growing pressure of the blood.  It all starts in the kidneys. As sodium builds up in the body, the kidneys have trouble keeping up with the excess amount found in the bloodstream. Then it accumulates and holds onto water to dilute the excess sodium. This, in turn, increases the fluid in the surrounding cells and the blood volume. This process adds a lot of burden on the heart. As a result, excess salt intake also increases the risk of heart failure and stroke. Aside from high blood pressure, intake of too much sodium can also lead to stomach cancer and osteoporosis.

Low Sodium Label Claims Sell

While most Americans still consume significant amounts of sodium, there is an increasing trend seen in the population who show consciousness when it comes to their daily intake. They are shifting towards products that contain less to no salt.

Many consumers prefer to buy products which contain only 40% (or lower) sodium as they prefer to add the salt themselves. In fact, there is an increase in sales of products that claim to have less salt by as much as 23% since the end of April 2016. Nielsen found that the goods that have the highest sales are those that come with labels of “low salt” which has 72% of all sodium related products. On the other hand, products that are sodium-free only make up 3% of the sales.

sales sodium claims

So what could have attributed to this trend? More and more people in the United States are aware of the repercussions of including too much salt in their diet.  However, this does not mean that the sales of salt have decreased significantly. Studies still indicate that there is a spike in sales of salt by as much as 7.7% since last year. This is especially true for specialty salts such as kosher salt, sea salt, black salt, and Himalayan pink salt. Apparently, people who find it difficult to avoid salt are looking for better alternatives. These specialty salts contain more nutrients and essential elements than conventional salts. Despite their health benefits, consumers still need to control the amount of salt that they use every day.

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Clean Food Labels Are More Important Than Ever

Americans are becoming more cautious about what they eat. According to a recent consumer study, 64% of Americans check the ingredients of food items that they purchase as compared to only 53 percent of Europeans. The research was done by research company GNT Group with noting the study. This is a noticeable increase in the number of Americans reading food labels when compared to a study that was reported five years ago in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The study concluded that around 51.6 percent of Americans have their eyes on food labels before they even make a purchase.

“The study’s result clearly shows that natural ingredients have become more important all around the globe. Many manufacturers already comply with consumers’ wishes by, for example, using coloring foods exclusively made from natural raw materials and clearly indicating that on the label. This development will continue to gather momentum in the upcoming years.” -Hendrick Hoeck, GNT Group Managing Director

Simple Ingredients and Clean Food Labels

This new clean label development is noticeable in supermarket food aisles. It is evident from the iconic blue box for Kraft Dinner mac n cheese to the cheery Lucky Charms which have been reported to be manufactured soon without any artificial ingredients. Americans have indeed made a turn for the better when it comes to healthier food choices. Of course, a healthy diet is just one part of becoming healthy. A person who wishes to attain good health must also practice an active lifestyle and should make efforts to exercise daily to reduce stress in their lives.

The study also points out that consumers are not just looking for healthy food, but they want easy to understand food labels and nutrient information. Consumers are also choosing foods that are natural which means no additives, artificial coloring, artificial preservative, and chemical ingredients. By choosing natural and preservative-free food, consumers can guarantee a better quality diet. Chemicals in food are known to cause cancer, allergies, and chronic illnesses. Therefore, extra effort should be used to find healthy and natural foods in the packaged food aisles. Checking for clean food labels will give consumers more power in choosing the best food items for their family and it will also increase the value of their money spent on groceries.

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Add NutriFusion for Plant-Based Nutrients and Clean Food Labels

The United States is experiencing an extreme nutritional deficiency amongst its people. The majority of nutrients we consume on a daily basis are developed in a lab with synthetic chemicals. NutriFusion saw this problem and developed a breakthrough innovation for food and beverage manufacturers. Our patent pending method stabilizes vitamins and minerals in whole fruits and vegetables so that they can easily be added to many of our favorite packaged foods. Our ingredients are simple and easy to understand. Consumers immediately know that their nutrients are naturally sourced from fruits and vegetables. We believe our ingredient is essential to processed food over the next twenty years. Americans are not going to start eating fruits and vegetables overnight, so the least we can do is pack their favorite snacks and packaged foods with natural nutrition. If you are interested in learning more about NutriFusion, please visit your respective category.

Consumers Want Transparency in Nutrition Labels

Consumer awareness is increasing; they are now making demands that have never been seen in the food and beverage industry. Accessibility to information is driving this move as customers are now aware of how different ingredients affect their health. They are avoiding foods that can cause harm to their bodies as well as the environment. Consumer food companies must take action and provide more transparency in the nutrition labels on their products.


The Future of Nutrition Labels

Trends in consumer preferences were captured in a recent research study by Packaged Facts, “Nutritional Labeling and Clean Labels“. The study found that 87 percent of the customers reported looking at nutrition labels and a significant number of Americans actively seek out nutritional guidelines and information.

The study also found out that 67 percent of American consumers preferred to buy groceries which have simple and few ingredients. Almost the same percentage reported taking the ingredient statement into consideration when they are making decisions to purchase packaged food and beverages.

Clean Label Trend Promotes Product Overhaul

The FDA requires that companies who are manufacturing food and beverages to provide nutrition facts and labels. The companies are going a step further, prompted by the consumer trends; they are developing entirely new products which do not have artificial ingredients and food colors. They are now making products that are safe for consumers and provide information on the nutrition label, which will help them identify safe foods and beverages. The trends are pointing to the following: customers will see GMO ingredients off the shelves, and artificial colors and ingredients will no longer be part of traditional products. In the food world, the consumer is the CEO, and the trends dictate that food businesses will have to adapt to survive.

From Kraft Food Group to Nestle USA, the big players in the food and beverages industry are overhauling their production. Nestle USA made an announcement that they would stop the use of artificial flavors and colors in their chocolate candies. Tyson Foods is expected to eliminate the use of antibiotics on their poultry by late next year. Kraft Food Group just like Nestle USA plans to stop using artificial preservatives and colors in their products. Another company that has followed suit is Hershey; the company plans to give customers easy and simple ingredients statement, this will help the customers make easier and healthier decisions in the store.

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Simple Ingredients is the Key to Clean Labels

Food companies are in desperation mode to find simple ingredients that make their products healthier while not impacting the taste. Many have chosen to fortify their products with synthetic vitamins, but is that the answer? No, we need vitamins and essential phytonutrients from food based sources like fruits and vegetables.