business news in context, analysis with attitude

A new survey commissioned by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation reveals that while 56 percent of Americans say they are trying to lose weight, and most Americans say they are trying to improve their diets and get more exercise, 90 percent of Americans say they have no idea how many calories they should consume in a given day.

The IFIC refers to this as a “diet disconnect,” and suggests that there are five others typifying consumer behavior:

• A clear majority of Americans (84 percent) reported being physically active, for health benefits, at least once a week, but nearly half (44 percent) of Americans who report being physically active say they do not “balance diet and physical activity” to manage their weight.

• Ninety percent of Americans agree that breakfast is an important meal to achieve a healthful diet, but less than half of Americans (49 percent) report eating breakfast every day.

• Consumers’ concern about the types and amounts of fats they include in their diet is up from a year ago (72 percent vs. 66 percent) and they are specifically trying to consume less trans fat. However, consumers are unclear about which fats are healthful – in one example, Americans report trying to consume less polyunsaturated fats, which is one of the fats recommended for health benefits.

• Consumers are getting the message that specific types of carbohydrates can improve the overall healthfulness of their diet, with more than 70 percent of consumers say they are trying to consume more carbohydrates like fiber and whole grains. Still, more than 50 percent remain concerned with the amount of carbohydrates they consume, which is almost certainly attributable to fads like the Atkins diet.

• Consumers agree that consuming specific foods and beverages can provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition, such as improving heart health (80 percent), improving digestive health (76 percent), and improving physical energy or stamina (76 percent). However, more than 50 percent of Americans say they currently do not consume foods or beverages that deliver these benefits.
KC's View:
Okay, maybe that headline was a little over the top…

The great Charles McCord once said that the reason there are so many diet books on the best seller lists is that the ones that used to be there didn’t work. Boy, did he get that right.

This ought to be the sweet spot for food retailers – helping consumers understand and act on these issues in an informed and relevant way. Run classes in the store, use educational signage in appropriate departments, put easy to understand and simply positioned fliers in people’s shopping bags.

This is a great area in which retailers can become not just a source of product for the consumer, but also a resource for information that can improve their lives.

If food retailers, many of whom spend a good deal of time whining about level playing fields and unfair competition, don’t embrace these kinds of issues as a place where they can make a difference and prove their loyalty to the people who shop in their stores…well, maybe it isn’t consumers who are the morons.