IRI says European consumers are choosing healthier food options

A survey conducted by data and technology expert for consumer industries IRI has revealed that two thirds (70%) of shoppers across Europe are buying healthy food – with less salt, sugar, fat or calories.

A large proportion of shoppers are also buying organic, vegetarian and free from food, suggesting that people are paying more attention to their health.

The survey, which was conducted among shoppers in seven European countries, found that more than half of shoppers buy organic food, an increase of 35% in the last three years and 39% buy vegetarian food options (an increase of 26% in the last three years). People buying free from food options has also grown, with 33% of shoppers in the region buying lactose-free, yeast-free or gluten-free products.

With more awareness about the role that food plays in general health and wellness, alongside some high profile incidents that raise questions about the safety of the food chain, more people are paying attention to the quality of the food that they eat.

One third of shoppers surveyed want to buy additive free food and one in three shoppers read the ingredient lists and nutritional fact labels on food items before they purchase.

Livio Martucci, director at IRI and analyst of the shopping survey, says, “Concern for general wellness is the biggest reason that Europeans are buying healthier food options.

“They are more concerned with the quality, safety and healthiness of the food that they buy, have an intolerance to certain foods or just want to lose weight. With obesity becoming a key challenge for health across Europe, it is encouraging to see that one in four shoppers (26%) want to achieve weight loss.

“It is likely that more people are eating free from products than are actively diagnosed as being intolerant. They think they are being more healthy by eating free from food items are prepared to spend more money in doing so.

“Healthy eating alongside organic, free from and vegetarian food is no longer a niche market to be profiled at the back end of a supermarket aisle. There is a huge opportunity here for manufacturers to innovate and for retailers to give more shelf space to healthier food options, including own label ranges.

“Ultimately, a focus on health could bring people back into stores and stop shoppers drifting into bio stores and street markets for their healthy food choices.”

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