Understand the food/grocery consumer’s desire to eat healthy with this report. Consumer eating habits, attitudes, trends, and more are revealed and analyzed by our industry expert. Below, we’ve summarized the key topics covered and offer handpicked insights from the report.

Key Topics Covered

  • Factors influencing consumers’ eating habits/choices.
  • Brand strategies and opportunities within consumer healthy eating trends/approaches.
  • Consumers’ daily food breakdowns.
  • Food and drink nutrition selection criteria.
  • Desired BFY attributes, and consumers’ definitions of “healthy”.

Consumer Healthy Eating Landscape in the US

Healthy eating is personal; what’s “healthy” to one isn’t to another. While nearly half of consumers haven’t changed their eating habits in the last year, many have increased or reduced their restrictions, and these consumers cite mindfulness of their general health as the reason. Brands can tap into this mindset to support consumers on their individual journeys.

Fast Facts About the Healthy Eating Consumer

  • Age affects perceptions of healthy eating: Parents are the most likely to reduce “unhealthy” foods in excess, such as sugar, salt, and fat, which raise red flags for these consumers.
  • Calorie counting is off the table: 41% of consumers say that counting calories has a negative effect on mental health (also discussed in our Nutrition Drinks Market Report), and 53% state that they feel upset when they get off track with their eating habits.
  • Mental health defines many consumers’ food decisions: When selecting only three options, 22% of consumers will include “eating to support mental health” in their personal definition of healthy eating. This signals the importance of mental health in the decision-making of consumers when it comes to food choices.

What’s Next for Food Brands in the Healthy Eating Space?

Over half of consumers have had to compromise on their food choices due to grocery prices in the past year, and concerns about rising prices get stronger with weaker financial health. It’s clear then that financial health will affect how closely consumers scrutinize food product labels. Going forward, brand value communications will be critical in retaining consumers, and tiered pricing models and incentives will also further reduce the risk of losing customers.

Find a complete breakdown of market opportunities for food brands in the full report. Looking for something else? Browse our food market research to see relevant reports.

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Expert Analysis from a Technology Specialist

This report, written by Adriana Chychula, a leading food analyst, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis of how consumers perceive and act on healthy eating trends.

Diet has become a four-letter word, but that doesn’t mean it’s lost its grip. Consciously rejecting diet culture, while a start, is a slow process that is still susceptible to the mental health pitfalls of falling off track. Even as inflation threatens preferred product purchase, consumers still want to feel good inside and out; brand assistance in healthful routine that supports the body-mind connection and makes room for indulgence aligns with true holistic wellness.

Adriana Chychula, Analyst – Food, Drink, and Nutrition


Adriana Chychula
Analyst, Food, Drink and Nutrition

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
    • COVID-19: US context
    • Economic and other assumptions
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Changes in eating habits, 2022
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Financial health concerns hinder daily health choices
      • Figure 2: Ranked concern about inflation, by current financial situation, 2022
    • Reach young seekers of better habits through social media
      • Figure 3: Attitudes toward eating, by age, 2022
    • Bridge the gap between ingredients and consumer wellness goals
      • Figure 4: Food and drink nutrition criteria, 2022
  3. Approach to Eating by the Numbers

    • Snack habits sneak into even more diets
      • Figure 5: Typical food intake, 2022
    • Pandemic influence on approach to eating is tangible
      • Figure 6: Healthy eating attitudes – Net, 2022
    • Consumers more likely to cite restrictions than indulgences
      • Figure 7: Changes in eating habits, 2022
    • Nutrition label reading has room to grow
      • Figure 8: Label-reading frequency, 2022
    • Label readers are younger, urban and affluent
    • Financial comfort lends itself to closer label reading
      • Figure 9: Label-reading frequency, by current financial situation, 2022
    • To some consumers, being picky is a luxury
      • Figure 10: Changes in eating habits, by current financial situation, 2022
  4. Market Factors

    • Enflamed concerns about inflation will shave focus off healthy eating
      • Figure 11: Ranked concern about inflation, by current financial situation, 2022
    • More than half have already cut back on food spending
      • Figure 12: Attitudes toward select healthy eating responses, by current financial situation, 2022
    • Weight – and weight stigma – influence how “good” consumers feel
      • Figure 13: Self-reported body mass index, 2022
    • Mental health takes a bigger role in consumer approach to physical health
      • Figure 14: Attitudes toward eating, 2022
    • Consumer perception of “healthy” diet overwhelming includes animal products
      • Figure 15: Attitudes toward eating, 2022
    • Federal government assists in supporting nation’s health
  5. Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

    • Brands tap into genetic testing to personalize healthy diets with convenience
      • Figure 16: ZOE Instagram post, 2022
    • General Mills helps consumers ditch the diet baggage
      • Figure 17: Related social media search terms for “diet” or dieting,” 2019-22
    • Brands using clean label messaging to align with honesty, trust
      • Figure 18: “Clean label” product introductions, 2022
    • Functional ingredients in funky places open door for creativity
      • Figure 19: Functional product introductions, 2022
    • Supplements made from food take “food as medicine” literally
      • Figure 20: Daily Gem Instagram post, 2022
  6. Consumer Fast Facts

    • Consumers still view health through weight maintenance and restriction
    • Mental health can’t be separated from the equation
    • Generational differences revealed in perspectives and calls to action
  7. Daily Food Intake Breakdown

    • Consumers increasingly filling gaps in diet with snacks
      • Figure 21: Typical food intake, 2022
    • Snacking gains steam among older consumers
      • Figure 22: Typical food intake, by age, 2021-22
    • Help steadfast label readers to plan varied healthful meals
      • Figure 23: Typical food intake, by label-reading frequency, 2022
    • Encourage adventurous consumers to play with their food
      • Figure 24: Typical food intake, by food and drink consumer segmentation, 2022
  8. Changes in Eating Habits

    • Consumers twice as likely to cut back than indulge
      • Figure 25: Changes in eating habits, 2022
    • Active seekers of better habits are under 55
      • Figure 26: Changes in eating habits, by age, 2022
    • Consumers lean on labels to decide what not to eat
      • Figure 27: Consumer label reading frequency, by changes in consumer eating habits, 2022
  9. Reasons for Changes to Eating

    • Playing a brand role in the wellness village can help BFY seekers
      • Figure 28: Reasons for more restrictive eating habits, 2022
    • Reasons for restriction evolve with age
      • Figure 29: Reasons for more restrictive eating habits, by age, 2022
    • Simplify parents’ BFY efforts
      • Figure 30: Reasons for more restrictive eating habits, by parental status, 2022
    • Coach for balance with BFY relaxers
      • Figure 31: Reasons for less-restrictive eating habits, 2022
  10. Food/Drink Nutrition Criteria

    • Connect fiber’s benefits to broader health goals
      • Figure 32: Food and drink nutrition criteria, 2022
    • Work on protein communications with older consumers
      • Figure 33: Food and drink nutrition criteria, by age, 2022
    • Reach dads with benefit-added food and drink products
      • Figure 34: Food and drink nutrition criteria, by parental status, by gender, 2022
  11. BFY Benefits Sought

    • BFY interests reveal pain points – and opportunity
      • Figure 35: Interest in BFY product features, 2022
      • Figure 36: Function-forward product introductions, 2022
    • Support consumer brain health via convenient formats
      • Figure 37: Interest in BFY product features, by food and drink consumer segmentation, 2022
      • Figure 38: Convenient product introductions featuring cognitive functionality, 2022
    • Empower older consumers’ wellness pursuits
      • Figure 39: Interest in BFY product features, by age, 2022
  12. Healthy Eating Goals

    • Managing desires for indulgence is consumers’ priority
      • Figure 40: Healthy eating ideals, 2022
    • Younger consumers ditching traditional health standards
      • Figure 41: Healthy eating ideals, by age, 2022
    • Parents’ vision of health looks beyond limits to indulgence
      • Figure 42: Healthy eating ideals, by parental status, 2022
  13. Healthy Eating Attitudes

    • Consumers are split on many issues – but not animal products
      • Figure 43: Attitudes toward eating, 2022
    • Leverage credibility in social content to guide younger consumers
      • Figure 44: Attitudes toward eating, by age, 2022
    • Value-forward personalized messaging can help parents stay on track
      • Figure 45: Attitudes toward healthy eating, by parental status, 2022
  14. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  15. Appendix – The Consumer

      • Figure 46: Attitudes toward food and drink, by food and drink consumer segmentation, 2022

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