US shoppers continue to gain strides against unhealthy eating habits and the health risks and issues they cause. While everyone splurges on sweets and junk food occasionally, a trend toward healthy lifestyles continues to trend upward with American shoppers. In addition to trying to live a healthier lifestyle, statistics and research shows that the American public is succeeding. 

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) research shows improvements in the quality of American diets starting in 2005. The USDA’s report, “Changes in Eating Patterns and Diet Quality Among Working Age Adults, 2005-2014,” shows American Adults consuming fewer calories from fat and unsaturated fat, consuming less cholesterol and eating more fiber. The study centers around efforts taken to improve food choices and diet quality and consumer access to science based nutrition education and healthy foods.

Using the Tools

Forty-two percent of working age adults report that they use the Nutrition Facts Panel on packaged foods most or all of the time to make choices on foods. In addition, 57 percent of older adults use the Nutrition Facts Panel to make choices, as well. Researchers found this to be a noticeable increase from the past. Making the nutritional facts of foodservice, deli, and instore bakery items easily accessible to store customers gives perimeter supermarket departments credibility with shoppers at the very least.

Researchers also found that 76 percent of adults say that they would use nutritional information to make choices at restaurants if the information were available. Use this research to your advantage by offering nutritional information in your foodservice department, as well as the bakery and deli, to compete for business in the foodservice segment. There’s more, too.

Eating at home

During the recession of 2007-2009, a study found an approximate five percent decrease in overall food expenditures per household. This resulted mostly from a 12.9 percent decline in spending on eating out. That means more shoppers in the supermarket. Good promotion and advertising will encourage shoppers to spend more at the supermarket while already there to purchase their food. While the recession does appear to be in the midst of a rebound, many households have hung on to the frugal plan.

The healthy eating trend in America relates to eating out less in more ways than one. Eating at home more is associated with more family meals, a trend that not only benefits health physically, but has been proved to increase other areas of health such as family unity, mental and emotional health. In addition, with the average person eating three fewer meals away from home, and slightly more than one fewer snacks away from home, the calories consumed through eating out dropped by 127 calories per day.

Changing Perception

While the price of products will always play a role in the way consumers make choices on what they purchase, the USDA’s report shows a gradual change in the way consumers are thinking about and approaching food purchases. Adults placed increased importance on the nutritional value of foods when making choices to purchase food items. This reinforces the fact that Americans continue to seek out healthier food options when shopping supermarkets.

Another change in attitude noted within the report showed that belief in the ability to change one’s own body weight had increased by three percentage points in recent years. “When individuals believe that their actions directly affect their body weight, they might be more inclined to make healthier food choices," says study author Jessica Todd, Ph.D., of the Economic Research Service. With the current trend in healthy living and more and more Americans making exercise a bigger part of their daily and weekly routines, this belief in the ability to control appearance has nowhere to go but higher.