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A Shift in Food Shopping Habits


Some interesting data from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) sheds light on how consumers shop for groceries and what their priorities are as they fill their carts.

Shopping for Health 2011, the 19th annual study released by the FMI and Prevention magazine, found a change in behavior from previous surveys: Consumers no longer place such a high priority on avoiding undesirable ingredients in food -- such as fat, sugar and calories. Instead, they increasingly look for foods offering healthful components, such as fiber, whole grains, protein and antioxidants.

About half of the 1,579 U.S. shoppers surveyed reported buying cranberry juice, dark chocolate or almonds in the past year. They also bought green tea (43%), pomegranate juice (25%) and Greek yogurt (21%). All of these foods have been heavily touted as having health benefits.

The most attractive health claim is heart health, which appeals to 73% of those surveyed. Enhanced energy, digestive health and mind health are also very important factors in consumer buying decisions, according to the survey.

More than half of those surveyed said they are buying more whole grains than in previous years. They also reported seeking foods claiming to be low-sodium, all-natural, low-fat and reduced- or low-calorie.

The number of consumers purchasing organic foods has increased, from 40% in 2009 to 45% at the end of 2010. For those who do not buy organic, cost is the main factor, cited by 67%.

Sixty percent of shoppers reported having bought a food or beverage product labeled as "natural" in the past year. Among this group, the greatest number said they purchased natural cheese (39%), yogurt (33%), tea (33%) and cereal (31%).

The FMI charges for the full report, but a summary of it can be found here.

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