More grocery shoppers are seeking out and trying “better-for-you” foods, especially dairy- and meat-free alternatives, according to a new national health food study by Earth Balance. Two thousand consumers were polled for the study, which looked at which new foods they’re trying, their top motivators and trends in healthy eating.
When asked which factors are most important to them when shopping for food, respondents said buying local (37 percent), organic (33 percent) and non-GMO (30 percent) are key.
Additionally, Americans are more willing to try better-for-you-foods, with the study showing the most tried are healthy snacks, dairy alternatives and oil alternatives.
Dairy alternatives ranked as the favorite better-for-you food, cited by 29 percent of respondents. Superfoods (e.g., chia, acai and quinoa), alternative snacks (e.g., gluten-free crackers, nut butters and Greek yogurt) and alternative oils (e.g., avocado, coconut and sunflower) tied for second with 28 percent. Plant-based proteins, such as hemp hearts, lentils and spirulina, ranked third with 18 percent.
Of all the popular better-for-you foods, participants said the ones they consume most often are green tea (33 percent), dairy alternatives (31 percent), kale (21 percent) and quinoa (16 percent). On the flip side, the ones they consume least often are maca powder, wheat berries and nutritional yeast (3 percent) and farro (2 percent).
Price, cited by 64 percent, is overwhelmingly the main reason consumers hold back from trying a new type of health food, concerns about not liking its taste or texture ranked second and lack of store availability ranked third. That said, approximately one-third are willing to pay an additional $2 or more for a better-for-you alternative to a traditional food item.
When it comes to what entices people to give a new health food or trend a try, the majority of respondents said recommendations from friends and family. Despite many brands enlisting celebrities and athletes to endorse products and campaigns, the study found they hold little clout. Less than 3 percent of participants report trying a new food or dietary lifestyle because of a celebrity endorsement, compared to 43 percent who are influenced to try new products based on recommendations from family or friends.
While Americans are more open than ever to better-for-you foods, they still love to snack.
When asked which snacks they find most tempting, respondents ranked chocolate in the top spot (31 percent), followed by potato chips (16 percent) and ice cream (14 percent), proving that they still crave a little balance. The study found that 88 percent of respondents eat a snack that they know is not healthy at least once per day.
Earth Balance of Boulder, Colorado, is a manufacturer of buttery spreads, nut butters, dressings and snacks.