Consumers Increasingly Seeking Natural Ingredients In Food & Drink

New research from Euromonitor International shows that consumers are more conscientious about food and beverage labels and look for natural and green product features that directly influence themselves and their families.

In survey of 28,000 online respondents in 20 markets worldwide, 53% of respondents said they avoided at least five food ingredients in 2016, up from 35% in 2015. Concerns about artificial sweeteners, GMOs as well as trans-fat and hydrogenated oils increased the most – at least 9 percentage points –from 2015 to 2016.

“Today, more than one-third of consumers are carefully reading food and beverage labels, scanning for ingredients on their ‘must avoid’ lists,” said Lisa Holmes, a senior survey analyst at Euromonitor International.

Products labelled as ‘natural’ continue to resonate with 50% of survey respondents considering ‘natural’ product labels trustworthy in 2016 – a 14 percentage point increase from 2011.

However, a universal understanding of ‘natural’ when it comes to product labels from a consumer’s perspective is unclear. In 2011, Euromonitor said that 48% of survey respondents defined ‘natural’ as having strict regulations, which dropped to 26% in 2016. Similarly, 44% of respondents defined ‘natural’ as respecting animal welfare in 2011, which also decreased to 28% in 2016.

“Most consumers agree that ‘natural’ means no artificial additives or chemicals, but opinions vary on whether natural products are also organic, strictly regulated, or healthier than non-natural,” Holmes said.

The survey found that consumers are also focusing on green, or eco-friendly, products that provide a direct self-benefit. Though 66% of consumers try to have a positive impact on the environment, only 15% are willing to pay more for recyclable products – whereas 39% are willing to pay more for natural features.

“While eco-conscious products may boost feelings of helping the environment, few consumers are willing to pay extra for these environmentally-focused features on their own,” Holmes said. “Instead, consumers are more open to paying extra for natural and organic product features that they see as having direct benefits to themselves and their families.”

NAM Implications:
  • Where at: Add ‘savvy’ for an assessment of the attention the consumer is now giving to ingredients and claims on packaging, and anticipate literal interpretation, until proven wrong
  • Where headed: This trend will only become more intense, as mobile-helped consumers become more discerning..
  • Effect on you: Think Brexit and substituting EU food regulations with much looser WTO rules for meat and produce, undoubtedly cheaper, but of less certain origins…
  • Action: Check out this Guardian article re. imported vs. locally sourced food