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The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Rodale’s Prevention magazine are out with their annual “Shopping for Health” study, indicating that “a shift in thinking” is taking place in how consumers approach healthy eating.

Some excerpts:

• “Lack of planning is trumping health in the decision-making process at the American dinner table, as 72% of shoppers decide what to have for dinner that day. When same day decisions for dinner are made, health (52%) falls well behind few taste (73%), quickness of preparation (60%) and craving (52%). Lack of meal planning is so pervasive that one-in-four shoppers (24%) decide what to have for dinner within one hour before eating.”

• “What used to matter most to shoppers is which undesirable characteristics their foods were devoid of: fat, sugar, salt, calories, etc. Now, fortification and the inclusion of key health ingredients are on the rise, with fiber (44%) being the most sough-after component; whole grain (36%), protein (27%), Omega-3 (23%) and antioxidants (16%) follow.”

• “About half of shoppers have bought cranberry juice, dark chocolate, or almonds in the past year, probably because there have been marketing campaigns and news coverage touting the health benefits of these so-called ‘superfoods,’ so dubbed because they contain large quantities of specific nutrients. Shoppers are also purchasing green tea (43%), pomegranate juice (25%), and greek yogurt (21%).”

• “Certain health claims are also proving to be attractive to customers. When purchasing food, heart health (73%) is the top health claim on packaging that matters to consumers. More energy (71%), digestive health (66%), and improving mind health (65%) follow closely behind.”Most shoppers generally read food labels, but that share has dropped the last few years, from 71% in 2007 and 2008 to 67% in 2009 and 64% in 2010.”

• “Three in four shoppers say they make most of their food and beverage purchase decisions before they get to the store, although they do not plan their meals that far ahead of time ... 44% use a list when shopping for healthy food most of the time.”
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