Consumers pay attention to fats, oils in packaged food, according to study

May 29, 2020

According to Cargill’s annual global study, FATitudes, 68% of consumers closely read labels and monitor fats and oils in their packaged foods. 

According to Cargill’s annual global study, FATitudes, 68% of consumers closely read labels and monitor fats and oils in their packaged foods. Each year, Cargill (Minneapolis) surveys consumers about their perceptions and behaviors surrounding fats and oils in packaged foods. 

“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, in press release. 

Approximately 6,600 primary household grocery shoppers were surveyed this year in 12 countries, from the United States to Germany. “As consumers’ attitudes toward fats and oils have shifted in recent years, we know they’re interested in consuming healthy amounts of oils,” Tagma continued. “We’re able to offer a broad portfolio of fat and oil solutions, including our Clear Valley line, which has a canola-based product with lower saturated fat. This research is vital to guide our thinking on whether to revitalize tried-and-true products or develop a new frying oil to adapt to changing tastes and health options.”
 
A few key findings from the study. include:

  • The amount of fat (70%) and type of oil (67%) are important factors to consumers when deciding which packaged foods to buy

  • Label reading different by geography. Chinese consumers pay the most attention (89%), and German consumers monitor the least (48%)

  • 61% of U.S. consumers steer clear of certain fats or oils, and 83% of clean-label seekers avoid saturated and trans fats, among others

  • Olive oil is the most popular oil across the board for impact on purchase and perceptions of healthfulness in packaged foods, followed by fish and avocado oils

  • 93% of global consumers are aware of omega-3s 

"Food is becoming increasingly personalized, and consumers are basing their purchasing decisions on specific ingredients,” Florian Schattenmann, CTO and vice president of Innovation and R&D, Cargill, said in a press release. “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.” 

The study also found that consumers are influenced by claims on packaged food. The key takeaways are:

  • 54% of consumers says fat-related claims (fat-free, low fat, etc.) makes them more likely to purchase

  • 62% of Chinese consumers and 61% of Brazilian consumers are more likely to purchase a product with a sustainability claim, while 73% of Russian consumers are more likely to purchase a product with a non-GMO claim

  • Globally, organic certification is more impactful on purchasing decisions than a non-GMO verification

According to Allison Webster, director of research and nutrition communications for International Food Information Council (IFIC), its consumer research has consistently shown that while nutrition information, expiration date, and ingredients lists are most often consulted to decide what to eat, labels and health claims are also highly influential on food purchasing decisions. “Cargill’s FATitudes survey looks at similar perceptions and behaviors specifically related to fats and oils, this time from an international vantage point,” said Webster, in a press release. “These global perspectives shed light on important differences between countries and provide critical insights into how people around the world think about two all-important questions: ‘What should I eat, and why?’”