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Attitudes to Healthy Eating - UK - February 2015

“That only 7% of people trust health claims on food dilutes their ability to add value. The food industry stands to benefit from combatting the serious lack of awareness about the high level of regulation in place that this implies.”

– Colette Warren, Food and Drink Analyst

This report covers the following issues:

  • Scope for food industry to benefit from dispelling lack of trust in health claims
  • Confusion around nutritional labelling impedes healthy choices
  • Doubts about taste still burden light foods

Tackling the rising obesity rate has become a pressing priority for the government, as currently over six in 10 adults in England can be classified as overweight or obese according to NHS data. This and the related health issues are placing a substantial financial burden on the UK’s health service.

The majority of adults see the healthiness of food as important. However, with just over a quarter of consumers actually concerned about being overweight, this leaves a proportion of consumers who are overweight or obese, but aren’t concerned about it. Disrupting this lack of concern remains a key challenge for the government. 

The lack of consumer awareness about the work EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) does to regulate fortified foods, widespread doubts about the healthiness of sweeteners and confusion around nutrition labelling are among other areas that need addressing to unlock significant demand among consumers.

This report looks at consumers’ attitudes and behaviours related to healthy eating, exploring both attributes sought for and those avoided. The report also explores related issues such as the attitudes towards health claims, nutrition information and sources used for information about health and food.

A lack of knowledge about nutrition information comes across as a key barrier, two fifths of consumers stating that they find this confusing. That two thirds think uniform on-pack information would help them to make healthy choices supports this notion. 

The commitment of much of the food industry to uniform front-of-pack nutrition labelling thus comes across as a welcome development. However, building awareness of what the labels mean in tangible terms is also likely to be needed to build trust in the scheme and combat confusion. 

While such confusion prevails, operators’ steps to improve the health credentials of their products will go undervalued by consumers.


Another key area where clarity is needed are health claims, which less than one in 10 consumers trust, as almost half the nation think that products make health claims without scientific proof. These views are diluting the value of functional claims as a selling point. 

As such, the food industry stands to benefit from raising awareness of the work done by EFSA and the ASA to scrutinise such claims and the communication related to them. 
 

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction

      • Definition
        • Abbreviations
        • Executive Summary

            • Market factors
              • Obesity remains high on government agenda
                • Sugar hits the media spotlight in 2014
                  • Nutrition details on packaging confuse two in five
                    • Fortified foods remain under scrutiny
                      • New product trends
                        • Minus claims dominate new launches with health claims
                          • Figure 1: Share of launches with health* claims of all new products in the UK food market, 2010-14
                        • Free-from leads in minus claims, low sugar leaps ahead in 2014
                          • Plus claims are growing, though still small
                            • Functional claims gain share in 2014
                              • The consumer
                                • More than a quarter of people worry about weight
                                  • Figure 2: Consumers’ health concerns, November 2014
                                • Healthiness of food is more important than cost but behind taste
                                  • Figure 3: Factors deemed important* when purchasing food for home, November 2014
                                • Three in five look for foods which count towards your 5-a-day
                                  • Figure 4: Factors influencing purchase of food for use at home, November 2014
                                • Friends and family are relied on most for healthy eating advice
                                  • Figure 5: Resources used for advice/help on healthy eating, November 2014
                                • Nutritional information still unclear to many
                                  • Figure 6: Attitudes towards healthy eating, November 2014
                                • Many believe health claims are made without scientific proof
                                  • Figure 7: Attitudes towards products with health claims/benefits, November 2014
                                • What we think
                                • Issues and Insights

                                    • Scope for food industry to benefit from dispelling lack of trust in health claims
                                      • The facts
                                        • The implications
                                          • Confusion around nutritional labelling impedes healthy choices
                                            • The facts
                                              • The implications
                                                • Doubts about taste still burden light foods
                                                  • The facts
                                                    • The implications
                                                    • Trend Application

                                                        • Trend: Prove It
                                                          • Trend: Help Me Help Myself
                                                            • Mintel Future: Brand Intervention
                                                            • Market Drivers

                                                              • Key points
                                                                • The Public Health Responsibility Deal
                                                                  • 250kCal cap on single-serve confectionery
                                                                    • New salt targets
                                                                      • Obesity remains high on government agenda
                                                                        • Prevalence
                                                                          • Cost
                                                                            • Initiatives
                                                                              • NHS 2014 five-year plan
                                                                                • Sugar hits the media spotlight in 2014
                                                                                  • Sweeteners continue to face scepticism
                                                                                    • Nutrition details on packaging confuse two in five
                                                                                      • Front of Pack Nutrition Labelling scheme
                                                                                        • Two in five people find nutrition information confusing
                                                                                          • Fortified foods remain under scrutiny
                                                                                          • New Product Trends

                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                              • Methodology
                                                                                                • Minus claims dominate new launches with health claims
                                                                                                  • Figure 8: Share of launches with health** claims of all new products in the UK food market, 2010-14
                                                                                                • Low/no/reduced allergen claims form the largest part of the minus claims category
                                                                                                  • Figure 9: Share of new product launches with minus claims in the overall UK food market, by claim, 2010-14
                                                                                                • Low/no/reduced sugar claims leaped ahead in 2014
                                                                                                  • Three years of growth in the share of products making plus claims
                                                                                                    • Figure 10: Share of new product launches with plus claims in the overall UK food market, by claim, 2010-14
                                                                                                  • The share of products making high-fibre claims grew in 2014
                                                                                                    • An increase in high-protein claims contributed to the growth in plus claims in 2014
                                                                                                      • Vitamin/mineral fortification moves to new realms
                                                                                                        • The share of launches with functional claims increased in 2014
                                                                                                          • Figure 11: Share of new product launches with functional claims in the overall UK food market, 2010-14
                                                                                                        • Energy claims centre around ‘fuel for the day’
                                                                                                          • Bone health claims move to more indulgent categories
                                                                                                            • Selected products look to konjac for satiety proposition
                                                                                                              • Operators look to ‘superfoods’ for natural fortification
                                                                                                                • Branded NPD increases its share of launches with health claims
                                                                                                                  • Figure 12: New product launches with health* claims in the food market, branded vs own-label, 2010-14
                                                                                                                • Coconut drives flavour and function in 2014
                                                                                                                  • Figure 13: top 10 flavours (inc. blends) among new product launches featuring minus, functional or plus claims, 2014
                                                                                                              • Brand Research

                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                  • Methodology
                                                                                                                    • Activia leads as caring, Weetabix as healthy
                                                                                                                      • Figure 14: Top 10* food brands, by association with “A brand that cares about my health/ wellbeing”, 2013 and 2014
                                                                                                                      • Figure 15: Top 10* food brands, by association with “Healthy”, 2013 and 2014
                                                                                                                    • The ‘actively healthy’ proposition
                                                                                                                      • Brands look to reassure shoppers of their taste credentials
                                                                                                                        • The ‘naturally good for you’ brands
                                                                                                                        • Healthy Eating Topics Online

                                                                                                                          • What you need to know
                                                                                                                            • Online topics
                                                                                                                              • Figure 16: Online mentions of selected topics, October 2011-January 2015
                                                                                                                            • Research on obesity ensures its presence in online discussions
                                                                                                                              • Figure 17: Topic cloud around obesity, October 2011-January 2015
                                                                                                                            • Eating healthily represents a lifestyle change
                                                                                                                              • Figure 18: Topic cloud around healthy eating, October 2011-January 2015
                                                                                                                            • Discussion around healthy eating tends to be somewhat seasonal
                                                                                                                              • Figure 19: Conversation around healthy eating, by month, October 2011-January 2015
                                                                                                                            • Consumer interest in healthy eating peaks in January…
                                                                                                                              • …with a little encouragement required to keep interest sustained past February
                                                                                                                                • Five-a-day could be more encouraging towards including children
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 20: Topic cloud around five-a-day mentions, October 2011-January 2015
                                                                                                                                • Sugar content topic cloud reveals diabetes as a main concern
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 21: Topic cloud around sugar content, October 2011-January 2015
                                                                                                                                • Superfoods make up parts of different healthy eating aims
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 22: Topic cloud around superfoods, October 2011-January 2015
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 23: Mentions of selected superfoods, October 2011-January 2015
                                                                                                                                • Versatility influences online mentions context
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 24: Correlation between mentions referencing superfood status, and mentions referencing health benefits, October 2011-January 2015
                                                                                                                                • Red meat links to discussion of health concerns, while research may drive increase in topic mentions
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 25: Topic cloud around red meat mentions, October 2011-January 2015
                                                                                                                                • Salt content topics similar to sugar but fewer mentions may indicate lower concern
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 26: Topic cloud around salt content mentions, October 2011-January 2015
                                                                                                                              • The Consumer – Health Concerns

                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                  • More than a quarter of people worry about weight
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 27: Consumers’ health concerns, November 2014
                                                                                                                                  • A quarter of people are concerned about tiredness
                                                                                                                                    • Joint health concerns are far more prevalent than bone health
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 28: Most common consumer health concerns, by gender and generation, November 2014
                                                                                                                                    • The Consumer – Factors Influencing Purchase of Food for Home

                                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                                        • Healthiness of food is more important than cost but behind taste
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 29: Factors deemed important* when purchasing food for home, November 2014
                                                                                                                                        • Food must deliver on taste, though low price remains front of mind
                                                                                                                                          • Three in five think about the healthiness of food
                                                                                                                                            • Fuller for longer is an important choice factor for half of people
                                                                                                                                              • Three in 10 look to food for an energy boost
                                                                                                                                              • The Consumer – Nutritional Attributes Sought from Food

                                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                                  • Three in five look for foods which count towards your 5-a-day
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 30: Factors influencing purchase of food for use at home, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                  • The nation is falling short of its 5-a-day target
                                                                                                                                                    • Opportunity for more ‘low in’ launches
                                                                                                                                                      • Many people avoid sweeteners
                                                                                                                                                        • Discrepancies between health concerns and products sought
                                                                                                                                                        • The Consumer – Resources Used for Advice/Help on Healthy Eating

                                                                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                                                                            • Friends and family are relied on most for healthy eating advice
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 31: Resources used for advice/help on healthy eating, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                            • Use of healthy eating apps remains low
                                                                                                                                                              • Younger cohorts seek out advice the most
                                                                                                                                                                • Only one in four people have used traffic light labelling
                                                                                                                                                                • The Consumer – Attitudes towards Healthy Eating

                                                                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                    • Nutritional information still unclear to many
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 32: Attitudes towards healthy eating, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                                    • Half of people find it hard to keep track of their dietary intake
                                                                                                                                                                      • Messages centred on speed and taste should boost healthy products
                                                                                                                                                                      • The Consumer – Attitudes towards Products with Health Claims/Benefits

                                                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                          • Many believe health claims are made without scientific proof
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 33: Attitudes towards products with health claims/benefits, November 2014
                                                                                                                                                                          • Functional labelling seen to lack clarity
                                                                                                                                                                            • A third of consumers prefer products naturally high in nutrients
                                                                                                                                                                              • Natural fortification
                                                                                                                                                                                • Three in 10 associate protein with satiety

                                                                                                                                                                                Companies Covered

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                                                                                                                                                                                Attitudes to Healthy Eating - UK - February 2015

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