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Healthy eating habits start in-store for many UK and US shoppers

By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 08:28, 26 June 2020

Shoppers seek help to be healthier

Despite efforts made to eat healthier, there is an admission in both the UK and USA that what they are doing is not enough. Shoppers know that the meals they are eating are unhealthy; 48% of the UK and 45% admit to eating less than one healthy meal a day.

Percentage of people who say they eat less than
one healthy meal a day

Current product labelling is not helping shoppers understand what is healthy. Just 22% of UK and 28% USA shoppers say that they have a good understanding of salt, fat and sugar content in their foods.

Respondents in the UK and the USA are also honest in admitting that they are stuck in bad habits, which they find hard to break (32% and 43% respectively) but also point out that they lack knowledge (15%) and the cooking skills (13%) and explanations of a poor diet.

Shoppers have been making healthier food choices since last year

Percentage of people who have made healthier food and wellbeing choices within the past year

Shoppers in the UK and USA have been making conscious efforts to make healthier choices when it comes to buying food. However, they also believe that they are not doing enough. Although 67% in the UK and 74% in the USA have said that they have been making healthier changes, over three quarters of these same respondents said that their diet is still not healthy.

There are still big issues with not eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a reliance on processed food. Both UK and US also use unhealthy food as a treat and admit that cravings and a lack of time are the key contributing factors to eating unhealthily.

Losing weight is the key motivator

Health concerns are by far the biggest motivator to changing eating habits. The majority of respondents- both in the UK and US- say that losing weight is the number one reason for seeking out healthier food rather than being proactive about their health (54% UK; 60% USA). Being overweight is the biggest single motivator to eating healthier with 51% of UK and 53% USA saying this is their reason for making healthier changes.

Shoppers are looking to retailers for solutions

Very few shoppers think retailers are doing enough to help shoppers eat healthily (28% in the UK; 26% in the USA). Helping shoppers eat more fresh produce is one opportunity, with 43% of UK and 59% of USA respondents admitting to eating less than 5 pieces of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.

Percentage of people who think supermarkets are not doing enough to help people to eat healthier

The majority of shoppers eating more healthily in the UK and US say that they think their weekly shop is costing more (53% and 59% respectively), and the biggest barrier to eating healthily in both countries in cost. The most significant thing a supermarket should do to help shoppers with eating healthily is make healthier options cheaper; 58% of UK and 67% of USA call this out.

Improving the visibility of healthy options will land well with customers, from increased promotions, more prominent placement on the shelf to having healthier snacks at the checkout, especially in the USA. As bad habits are called out as the second biggest barrier to healthy eating, retailers offering intuitive healthy swaps will be a low friction enabler to a more desired diet.

What tools do you think would help encourage you to choose healthier options in a supermarket?

Conclusion

Shoppers crave transparency and tools that make it easier for them to eat more healthily. More than 70% of UK and US respondents said that they didn’t have a good understanding of sugar, fat and salt content in foods and the majority of respondents in both markets have called for better food labelling on packaging and in-store.

A lack of visibility of healthy options are a major barrier. Featuring healthy items on prominent shelf space, offering price promotions, and reassuring shoppers that healthier items are no more expensive are all actions called out by shoppers to help them achieve a healthy diet.

Retailers and brands should look to offer shoppers taste-testing on healthy alternatives, provide simple and quick yet tasty healthy meal solutions, and make it easy for their customers to make sensible healthy swaps.

Data collected through online questionnaire; surveyed 2,001 US and 2,001 UK adults in May 2019.

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