When it comes to food preference, consumers today are beginning to prioritize health benefits over taste. In fact, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC), consumers ranked cardiovascular health as a top priority attributed to food selection. Other advantages that are sought in edible products include brain function, energy, and digestive health.

Perspectives on food health vary – depending on age, socioeconomic status, and behaviours, for example. This creates new expectations that food retailers must meet to coincide with customer demand.

Different Approaches to Food Health 

Generational Ideas on Health

In studies found by the IFIC, the perception of health in foods differs by generation. Those born between the late 1940s to the mid 1960s are more likely to look at calorie count and nutritional benefits when purchasing foods. Additionally, it was reported that this age group focused more closely on expiration dates, ingredients, and brand name. 

On the other hand, millennials, the generation born between 1980 – 2000, are more likely to consider a product’s effect on the environment and humane animal treatment. 

Home Cooked Meals and Health

Consumers believe that food made at home is more likely to be healthier than pre-prepared dishes served at restaurants. 

As reported by the Food Industry Association, 88 percent of American adults say they eat healthier at home than when they go out to eat. This can be attributed to the idea that preparing meals at home enables people to have more control over how their food is cooked and what ingredients are added. 

In the same study, 84 percent of consumers who have children find that it is “very or extremely important” to their wellbeing to eat at home with family. 

Organic Foods Popularity

According to the Pew Research Center, most Americans believe that organic produce, which is food that is produced without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents, is healthier than those that are “conventionally grown.” 

This perception has contributed to the sales increase in organic-labelled products, which is apparent in a 2017 Organic Trade Association report. Results indicated that organic food and non-food sales reached a high of $49.4 billion in the US.

Importance of Proper Food Safety

While health is becoming increasingly important for shoppers, food safety continues to be a key factor when purchasing and preparing raw and cooked foods. Food safety handling measures ensure that products are safe to eat and free of contaminants that could cause illness. 

For instance, raw meat is susceptible to bacterial growth, pesticides, and cross-contamination. If poorly handled, the consumption of these products can cause food poisoning or allergy outbreaks.

Some of the fundamental methods of food safety include frequently sanitizing all kitchen materials, equipment, and supplies. Hands should also be washed thoroughly, and vegetables and produce should be rinsed before preparation. 

Additionally, all raw meat products need to be cooked to their appropriate internal temperature to ensure that bacteria are destroyed. For example, beef should be cooked to at least 145F and poultry at 165F. 

Also, all raw and cooked ingredients should be separated in containers or prepared individually to prevent cross-contamination from allergens and germs. When storing food in freezers and refrigerators, it is important to make sure that these appliances are set at 0F and 40F, respectively. 

By following these methods, food safety expectations are upheld, and the standard of health in food products will be enhanced. 

Promoting Transparency 

Retailers should be transparent when labeling their food products. Doing so will enable shoppers to find items that best align with their health needs.

By being transparent, customers are presented with detailed information about ingredients, the brand’s mission, and its production processes. This enables food businesses to build trust among consumers, which fuels customer loyalty and increases sales. 

Types of Labels Consumers Look For

There are various types of labels that retailers can make to inform customers about their products. Some of the most common include:

  • Clean Label – These are labels that indicate the nutritional value, such as whether the food is organic or gluten-free. Clean labels also refer to products that are made of fewer and more recognizable ingredients. 
  • Clear Label – These labels provide information about a product or brand’s history, production, and source of ingredients. 

Conclusion

  • Maintaining health has become a key factor in consumers’ eating and purchasing habits
  • Foods deemed “healthy” by consumers, range from varying perceptions regarding home-cooked meals, organic items, and food safety
  • It is important to evaluate these trends to ensure customers are catered to and proper marketing strategies are implemented