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UK Attitudes towards Healthy Eating market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Attitudes toward Health Eating - UK market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Key points included

  • Opportunity to harness the feelgood factor as an incentive for healthy eating
  • DNA diets appeal as consumers look for personalisation and guidance
  • Heart health is underexplored

Covered in this report

65% of adults say they try to eat healthily all or most of the time. However, obesity rates are still high, with 64% of adults classified as overweight or obese, suggesting a disconnect between people’s good intentions and how successful they are at eating healthily.


Confusion around what healthy eating means is likely undermining this aim, with 46% of UK adults agreeing it’s hard to know which food/drink products are healthy. Nudges towards healthier choices would be welcomed by many, such as loyalty cards rewards or healthy aisles in supermarkets, signalling potential for the supermarkets to win favour by supporting their shoppers in this space. However, there is also openness among consumers to more punitive measures such as extending the sugar tax, offering welcome news for tackling this costly issue.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Amy Price, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

People’s openness to reformulation is good news for the industry, faced with government targets to make their products healthier, but also adds to the pressure to do so. That many would even welcome punitive measures such as taxing unhealthy foods provides food for thought for the government, but also to the industry, evidence of the strength of consumer sentiment here. By the same token, helping and coaxing consumers to make healthier choices stands to win favour for brands and retailers Amy Price
Food & Drink Analyst

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What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Overweight and obesity levels remain high among UK adults and children
              • Government initiatives to support healthy eating
                • The rise in real incomes should be positive for healthy eating
                  • Ageing population heightens role of diet in preventative health
                    • Companies and brands
                      • L/N/R sugar claims rise over 2015-19
                        • Plus claims see a rise in NPD; functional NPD remains rare
                          • The consumer
                            • 65% try to eat healthily all or most of the time
                              • Figure 1: How often people try to eat healthily, 2017-19
                            • 62% welcome greater reformulation
                              • Figure 2: Interest in healthy eating concepts, November 2019
                            • 48% would like to see rewards for healthier choices
                              • Figure 3: Interest in retail concepts to encourage healthy eating, November 2019
                            • A healthy heart and weight management are top goals
                              • Figure 4: Benefits consumers would ideally like from their diet, November 2019
                            • 67% prefer natural over fortified food
                              • Figure 5: Behaviours related to healthy eating, November 2019
                            • The feelgood factor is an incentive for healthy eating
                              • Figure 6: Attitudes towards healthy eating, November 2019
                            • What we think
                            • Issues and Insights

                              • Opportunity to harness the feelgood factor as an incentive for healthy eating
                                • The facts
                                  • The implications
                                    • DNA diets appeal as consumers look for personalisation and guidance
                                      • The facts
                                        • The implications
                                          • Heart health is underexplored
                                            • The facts
                                              • The implications
                                              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                • Overweight and obesity levels remain high among UK adults and children
                                                  • Government initiatives to tackle obesity
                                                    • The rise in real incomes should be positive for healthy eating
                                                      • Ageing population heightens role of diet in preventative health
                                                      • Market Drivers

                                                        • Overweight and obesity levels remain high among UK adults…
                                                          • Figure 7: Trends in BMI, England, 1995-2018
                                                        • …while almost three in 10 children are overweight or obese
                                                          • Government initiatives to support healthy eating
                                                            • Food industry tasked with 20% calorie reduction by 2024
                                                              • Sugar remains under the spotlight
                                                                • Salt reduction targets
                                                                  • 9pm watershed for junk food advertising mooted
                                                                    • Calls for a public transport snacking ban
                                                                      • PHE calls off January blitz
                                                                        • Peas Please initiative results in 90 million veg portions being eaten, according to report
                                                                          • The rise in real incomes should be positive for healthy eating
                                                                            • Figure 8: Annual change in CPI and average weekly earnings, January 2012-December 2019
                                                                          • Ageing population heightens role of diet in preventative health
                                                                            • Figure 9: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, 2014-19 and 2019-24
                                                                        • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                          • L/N/R sugar claims rise over 2015-19
                                                                            • Plus claims see a rise in NPD; protein takes the lead
                                                                              • Functional NPD remains rare despite consumer interest
                                                                              • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                • L/N/R sugar claims rise over 2015-19
                                                                                  • Figure 10: Share of new product launches with slimming and minus claims in the UK food market, by claim, 2015-19
                                                                                • Cadbury unveils low-sugar Dairy Milk bar
                                                                                    • Figure 11: Cadbury launches Dairy Milk with 30% less sugar, 2019
                                                                                  • Plus claims see a rise in NPD; protein takes the lead
                                                                                    • Figure 12: Share of new product launches with plus claims in the UK food market, by claim, 2015-19
                                                                                    • Figure 13: NPD in snack bars with a high/added-protein claim, 2019
                                                                                  • Protein continues to be explored as a way to cut down on sugar
                                                                                    • Functional NPD remains rare
                                                                                      • Figure 14: Share of new product launches with functional claims in the UK food market, by claim, 2015-19
                                                                                    • Cardiovascular health claim seen across cereals, yogurt and fish
                                                                                      • Figure 15: NPD featuring the cardiovascular claim in cereals and yogurt, 2019
                                                                                      • Figure 16: M&S salmon calls out omega 3 for heart health, 2020
                                                                                    • Brain health claim is rare
                                                                                      • Figure 17: NPD featuring the brain (& nervous) functional claim, 2018-19
                                                                                    • Gut health rises in prominence
                                                                                      • Figure 18: Kellogg’s pushes healthy gut messaging linked to fibre content, 2019
                                                                                    • Sainsbury’s focuses on gut health in new fixture
                                                                                      • Figure 19: Biotiful Dairy products, 2019-20
                                                                                    • Fermented trend continues
                                                                                        • Figure 20: NPD that focuses on gut health and fermentation, 2018
                                                                                      • Digestive health claims appear in sweet treats also
                                                                                        • Figure 21: Treats that reference digestive health, 2019
                                                                                      • ‘Mood foods’ remain rare
                                                                                        • References to adaptogens remain niche in the UK
                                                                                            • Figure 22: Raw Press launches adaptogenic range, 2019
                                                                                          • CBD attracts buzz and regulation…
                                                                                            • …as well as launches
                                                                                              • Figure 23: Foods featuring cannabidiol, 2019
                                                                                          • Brand Research

                                                                                              • Brand map
                                                                                                • Figure 24: Attitudes towards and usage of selected brands, 2019
                                                                                              • Key brand metrics
                                                                                                • Figure 25: Key metrics for selected brands, 2019
                                                                                              • Brand attitudes: Ryvita scores the highest on caring for health/wellbeing
                                                                                                • Figure 26: Attitudes, by brand, 2019
                                                                                              • Brand personality: Most brands are seen as accessible
                                                                                                • Figure 27: Brand personality – macro image, 2019
                                                                                              • Quaker and Weetabix are seen as family brands, as well as healthy
                                                                                                • Figure 28: Brand personality – micro image, 2019
                                                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                              • 65% try to eat healthily all or most of the time
                                                                                                • 56% eat healthily all/most of the time
                                                                                                  • 62% welcome greater reformulation
                                                                                                    • 48% would like to see rewards for healthier choices
                                                                                                      • Healthy aisles appeal to 39%
                                                                                                        • Heart health is top benefit wanted from diets
                                                                                                          • 67% prefer natural over fortified food
                                                                                                            • DNA diets appeal to almost half
                                                                                                              • The feelgood factor is an incentive for healthy eating
                                                                                                                • Plant-based diets are seen as healthy by 45%
                                                                                                                • Healthy Eating Intentions

                                                                                                                  • 65% try to eat healthily all or most of the time
                                                                                                                    • Figure 29: How often people try to eat healthily, 2017-19
                                                                                                                  • Women, the over-65s and the affluent are more inclined to eat healthily
                                                                                                                    • 56% eat healthily all/most of the time
                                                                                                                      • Figure 30: How often people actually eat healthily, November 2019
                                                                                                                  • Interest in Healthy Eating Concepts

                                                                                                                    • 62% welcome greater reformulation
                                                                                                                      • Figure 31: Interest in healthy eating concepts, November 2019
                                                                                                                    • 39% are open to smaller portions at restaurants
                                                                                                                      • Punitive measures such as a sugar tax and public transport ban appeal to a sizeable minority
                                                                                                                        • The young less open to a ban on eating on public transport
                                                                                                                          • Figure 32: Those who would like to see a ban on eating on public transport, by age, November 2019
                                                                                                                      • Interest in Healthy Eating Retail Concepts

                                                                                                                        • 48% would like to see rewards for healthier choices
                                                                                                                          • Figure 33: Interest in retail concepts to encourage healthy eating, November 2019
                                                                                                                        • Healthy aisles appeal to 39%
                                                                                                                          • 31% would like greater guidance on healthy eating
                                                                                                                            • Nutritional details on receipts appeal to one in four
                                                                                                                              • Low interest in in-store nutritionists; rising to 21% among 16-34s
                                                                                                                              • Benefits People Would Want from Their Diet

                                                                                                                                • A healthy heart and weight management are top benefits sought from diets
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 34: Benefits consumers would ideally like from their diet, November 2019
                                                                                                                                • Older generation look to support brain function
                                                                                                                                  • Opportunities for food to improve people’s mood
                                                                                                                                  • Behaviours Related to Healthy Eating

                                                                                                                                    • 67% prefer natural over fortified food
                                                                                                                                      • Nutrient-dense food should call out its credentials
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 35: Behaviours related to healthy eating, November 2019
                                                                                                                                      • DNA diets appeal to almost half
                                                                                                                                        • Foodservice explores DNA-tailored meals, NHS offers DNA testing
                                                                                                                                          • Smart Diets is a trend to 2030
                                                                                                                                            • Current initiatives range from online operators to tailored supplements
                                                                                                                                              • Consumers look for inspiration from social media, especially 16-34s
                                                                                                                                              • Attitudes towards Healthy Eating

                                                                                                                                                • The feelgood factor is an incentive for healthy eating
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 36: Attitudes towards healthy eating, November 2019
                                                                                                                                                • Plant-based diets are seen as healthy by 45%
                                                                                                                                                • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                    • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                      • Purchase Intelligence
                                                                                                                                                        • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Market Drivers

                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 37: Prevalence of overweight and obesity among children, by gender, 2018/19
                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 38: Share of NPD in the UK food market, by top claims, 2015-19
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 39: Share of NPD in the UK food market with a high/added-protein claim, by sub-category, 2015-19

                                                                                                                                                        About the report

                                                                                                                                                        This report will give you a complete 360-degree view of your market. Not only is it rooted in robust proprietary and high-quality third-party data, but our industry experts put that data into context and you’ll quickly understand:

                                                                                                                                                        • The Consumer

                                                                                                                                                          What They Want. Why They Want It.

                                                                                                                                                        • The Competitors

                                                                                                                                                          Who’s Winning. How To Stay Ahead.

                                                                                                                                                        • The Market

                                                                                                                                                          Size, Segments, Shares And Forecasts: How It All Adds Up.

                                                                                                                                                        • The Innovations

                                                                                                                                                          New Ideas. New Products. New Potential.

                                                                                                                                                        • The Opportunities

                                                                                                                                                          Where The White Space Is. How To Make It Yours.

                                                                                                                                                        • The Trends

                                                                                                                                                          What’s Shaping Demand – Today And Tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                        Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.

                                                                                                                                                        Description