Taste is the key driver in the American food market
Americans are interested in taste and the price they pay for their food, reveals the latest Food and Health survey from IFIC Foundation.
"Every Survey has seen “taste” reign supreme and in 2019 the trend continues. Deemed important by 86% of consumers, the impact of taste on purchasing decisions is up significantly from 81% in 2018. Other factors such as “price” (68%), “healthfulness” (62%) and “convenience” (57%) held steady. “Sustainability” as a purchase driver registered in the mid- to high-30 percentages through the years, but the 2019 refinement to “environmental sustainability” resulted in a drop to 27%, indicating that consumers may think of more than the environment when it comes to sustainability", says the report.
Regardless of the impact on purchasing decisions, over half of the consumers (54%) say it’s at least somewhat important that the products they buy to be produced in an environmentally sustainable way. Among those 54%, many look for specific labels or attributes to assess whether they believe a product is environmentally sustainable: 51% perceive products that are locally produced as environmentally sustainable, followed by products literally labeled as sustainably produced (47%), labeled as non-GMO/not bioengineered (47%), labeled as organic (44%), having recyclable packaging (41%) and having minimal packaging (35%).
Sustainability isn’t the only term that means different things to different people. Even a seemingly straightforward term like “plant-based” is subject to interpretation. About three-quarters (73%) of people say they have heard of plant-based diets, and about half (51%) are interested in learning more about them. Consumers who have tried any diet in the past year are far more likely to have heard of plant-based diets than those who have not tried a diet in the past year (82% vs. 68%).
But consumers are split on what they believe a plant-based diet means. About one-third (32%) say it is a vegan diet that avoids all animal products, including eggs and dairy. A similar percentage (30%) define it as a diet that emphasizes minimally processed foods that come from plants, with limited consumption of animal meat, eggs, and dairy. Another one in five (20%) believe it to be a vegetarian diet that avoids animal meat, while 8% say it is a diet in which you try to get as many fruits and vegetables as possible, with no limit on consuming animal meat, eggs, and dairy.
Animal products are a more popular source of protein than plants, with 52% of Survey takers saying they eat animal protein at least once per day versus 34% who say they eat plant-based protein—but the tide may be turning. Within the past year, 24% of consumers reported eating more plant protein than the previous year, while only half as many (12%) said they ate more animal protein.