More Shoppers Seeking Nutrition, But are They Finding It?

blurry shopper seeking protein

A recent consumer survey, Shopping for Health, conducted by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Prevention magazine indicates that nutrition continues to be a driving force in purchase decisions. Approximately 1500 adults were surveyed and provided the following picture:

  • 32% of shoppers state they are buying more foods based on nutritional components versus last year
  • 55% of shoppers switched to whole grain bread
  • Greek yogurt purchases are up 9 points from 2011
  • Foods with high protein are on the rise, at 33 percent

What you need to know:

While these are encouraging findings, we’d like to point a few out a few issues:

Nutritional components such as fiber, protein, and fat only tell a part of a product’s story. Nutrition labels are easy to “engineer” by adding the desired nutrient as an ingredient into foods. The best examples are children’s cereals that nutrition wastelands until they are sprayed with a concoction of vitamins and minerals.

So when we read that half of us are buying whole grain, we wonder what that means. Are people buying 100% whole wheat bread, or are they buying multigrain, which can simply mean a mixture of two types of refined flours?

Another example of a nutrient people are actively seeking is fiber. People see that a snack bar has 40% of their daily fiber needs and jump for joy. But reading the ingredient list, we see that the fiber is mostly added in the form of inulin (read our post Farting Fiber).

Protein is another interesting nutrient. Apparently we can’t seem to get enough of it, although the majority of Americans are consuming well over 100% of their daily protein needs. With all the meat and dairy we eat, there is no need to go out of your way to eat more protein. If you buy a snack that’s high in protein, check the ingredients to make sure it comes from real ingredients, not processed whey or soy powders.

What to do at the supermarket:

Don’t obsess over specific nutrients without reading the ingredient list. Only by using both will you be able to make a sound decision.  If you need help, your Fooducate app is nearby…

  • carol

    Greek yogurt has been successful due to marketing… it’s not really more healthy. It simply has been drained of some water so it’s more concentrated (which bumps up the non-water contents — e.g., protein — per gram, but not necessarily per calorie; think cheese vs. cottage cheese or dried meat vs. fresh meat). You pay more, but get less water, so it is basically a “wash.” Those of us who prefer our yogurt lighter (less thick) are out of luck as the Greek craze has monopolized the shelves (except for the “diet” regular-style yogurts or the heavily sweetened ones… not much in between anymore).

  • TwinToddlersDad

    Good commentary and suggestions…
    This is an issue because we rely so much on processed foods. Not a problem if you use fresh ingredients and prepare your own meals. Easier said than done, I know – we all live very busy lives. Processed foods do help us enjoy the benefits of modern life because of the convenience factor. The best way is to make informed choices at the supermarket (thanks for the help from Fooducate!) and increase the portion of fresh home-made meals/snacks in your daily routine.