The study, called FATitudes, confirmed that consumers track what goes into their bodies by closely reading labels of packaged foods, with fat and oil type as strong purchase consideration factors.
FATitudes is a study conducted by Cargill each year to learn more about consumers’ awareness, perceptions and behaviors around fats and oils found in packaged foods, and to help inform the future of food innovation. In this year’s expanded survey around 6,600 primary household grocery shoppers were surveyed in 12 countries including France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
The research revealed that consumers in developing economies report monitoring fats and oils at a higher rate (78%) than those in developed countries, including France, Germany and the UK (55%), with Chinese consumers paying the most attention (89%) and German consumers (48%) monitoring the least. Cargill put this down to greater food safety concerns in nations such as China.
Other key findings from the study included most global consumers reporting the amount of fat (70%) and type of oil (67%) are important factors when determining which packaged foods to purchase.
For consumers in the United Kingdom, the amount of fat (62%) is more important in purchase decision than type of oil (52%). Only about one-third of French consumers (35%) say they pay attention to the amount or type of oil used in restaurants.
“This type of research is important because it gives Cargill and our customers a guidepost for our innovation efforts,” said Nese Tagma, managing director of strategy and innovation for Cargill’s global edible oils business. “As consumers’ attitudes toward fats and oils have shifted in recent years, we know they’re interested in consuming healthy amounts of oils.”
Olive oil, meanwhile, tops the list in every country for impact on purchase and perceptions of healthfulness in packaged foods, followed by fish and avocado oils. A vast majority of global consumers, 93%, were aware of omega-3s, which is an important nutrient with many health benefits some consumers don’t get through their typical diet. In most countries, an organic certification on a label is more impactful on purchasing decisions versus a non-GMO verification
"Food is becoming increasingly personalized; consumers are basing their purchasing decisions on specific ingredients. At the same time, society is driving food ingredient companies to develop more options for health-conscious consumers. Using consumer insights helps us innovate in ways that balance the societal pressures with individual preferences to create healthful, sustainable and cost-effective products,” said Florian Schattenmann, CTO and vice president of Innovation and R&D, Cargill.