MOST RESPONDENTS CONSIDER JUNK FOOD ONE OF THE GREATEST THREATS FACING OUR SPECIES.
This 37-country exploration of attitudes toward food reveals that people are genuinely worried about the healthfulness of the modern diet. In fact, most respondents consider junk food one of the greatest threats facing our species. There is tremendous opportunity for food and beverage brands to address this concern—but they must first prove themselves worthy of trust by demonstrating that their products are good for both consumers and the planet.
The food industry has been undergoing massive change in the past couple of decades—including the explosive growth of “foodie” culture, the backlash against everything from junk food to trans fats and GMO, and the rise of food tribes adhering to specialized diets such as paleo and gluten-free. The foods we consume have also come under intensified scrutiny as a result of the growing recognition that how and what we choose to eat has significant implications for the health of our planet.
With this Prosumer study, we explore how the various food movements are evolving, what trends are gaining ground, and how food brands can best meet the changing needs of customers. The study draws on the experiences and points of view of 11,976 men and women in 37 markets around the globe.
Key findings include:
Our diets are killing us. People are genuinely worried about the unhealthfulness of the modern diet, with most of those surveyed convinced that junk food is one of the greatest threats facing our species. Large majorities worry about the health effects of artificial additives, genetic modification, and nutritionally suspect ingredients. And most people actually believe that eating sugar is as bad for one’s health as smoking cigarettes.
Food companies are falling short. Around 8 in 10 respondents believe that food can be as effective as medicine in maintaining overall health and that a healthy diet has the capacity to prevent most disease and illness. And yet only 4 in 10 consumers trust the food industry to provide them with healthful foods.
Me, my body, and the planet. There is growing awareness that the foods we choose to eat impact not only our individual health but also that of the planet and its nonhuman inhabitants. People are making consumption decisions accordingly.
Local is the new organic. Over the past decade, calls to “buy local” have intensified as consumers have sought to support nearby producers and merchants and keep retail profits closer to home. In the food category, “buy local” is about much more than the local economy. It’s about optimizing freshness and health, protecting the planet, and feeling closer to the land. Nearly a third of those surveyed describe their usual diet as “locally grown/produced,” compared with only 18% who describe it as “organic.”
Raw pleasure: In our increasingly artificial world, truly natural products have become almost an exotic indulgence. For the new consumer, eating nature-made, unadulterated foods is more than a pathway to health; it confers pleasure and even a sense of status.
Social eating is back. After decades spent speeding up food preparation and perfecting the art of eating on the run, people are seeking a return to the romance and traditions of communal dining.