Sugar now the UK’s number one ‘nutrient concern’
Among the most health conscious, fruit juice consumption has fallen 25% in a year.
Over the last 20 years, Kantar Worldpanel experts have seen a huge growth in the number of people who say they’re choosing what to put in their shopping trolley based on health. Health is now the number one reason for food selection on a third of occasions, and 93% of people say they want to cut down on the amount of sugar they consume. Amongst our most health conscious, fruit juice consumption has fallen by 25% in the past year.
There has been much talk of a sugar tax in recent months, but how much of a difference would that make? History shows where a category increases significantly in price and has a close substitution, people just switch category. For example, when lamb increased in price by 20% in the past, we saw people swapping to other fresh proteins, like beef and poultry. However, when rice or flour increased in price, volume didn’t change much because of the lack of a close substitute.
People are habitual and make decisions in supermarkets very quickly, so it’s easier for us to make little steps, rather than a big change. A big store holds 30,000 individual lines, yet the typical household only shops 300 in a year, 1% of available choice. If we enter a store wanting to buy a biscuit, it is very difficult to persuade us to buy an apple, but we may be convinced to switch to a lower-sugar biscuit. So to drive effective change, healthier may work better than healthy, with a new type of in-store signage directing us to “the healthiest” line?
Despite growing levels of concern about healthy eating sales of healthy private label products are down 3.3% year on year, while sales of low calorie food are flat. This is because our perception of what is healthy has shifted, from focusing on weight-loss and calorie control, towards fresh, free from nasties and more “natural”. We’ve seen significant growth in the ‘free-from’ and ‘functional’ (things like Actimel and Benecol) food. Five-a-day fresh fruit and vegetables are often seen as shorthand for healthy eating, and half a million more of us achieved our five-a-day in 2015 compared to 2014. Retailers should be looking to revisit and relaunch and reposition their healthy ranges, anchoring them to fresh fruit and veg. Retailers could also take more radical steps, such as using loyalty-cards to provide personalised healthy eating recommendations.