Consumers eat healthier and save in the recession

Articles
July 08, 2009

Consumers eat healthier and save in the recession

While consumers are worn down economically in this recession, they are also turning toward healthier eating and more resourceful shopping. Two out of three consumers (67%) "strongly agree" that they try to prepare healthy meals, the findings of a June benchmarking survey, The Economy & Your Food Shopping Habits, conducted by SupermarketGuru.com on behalf of ConAgra Foods, revealed. That's 10 percentage points higher than the identical questionnaire found when initially fielded in January 2009. Meanwhile, nine out of ten (90%) “strongly/somewhat agree” that meals prepared at home tend to healthier than those eaten out, up three percentage points from one survey to the next. Further tipping the scales in favor of home eating is its relative economy: 73% “strongly agree” that eating at home can save a lot of money, up a full six percentage points from the January survey. Far fewer people agree today (33%) that eating out is worth it, even if it costs more and isn’t as healthy, than in January (40%). And nearly half (48%) say now that nothing prevents them from eating healthy foods, up from 38% in January. Research findings reflect an American fortitude in these tough times, and plenty of deliberate store trip planning to bring home the best levels of nutrition and money savings possible. It seems as if people have spent 2009 discovering ways to achieve these goals, rather than simply accept their earlier perceptions that eating healthier is necessarily pricier.

While consumers are worn down economically in this recession, they are also turning toward healthier eating and more resourceful shopping. 

Two out of three consumers (67%) "strongly agree" that they try to prepare healthy meals, the findings of a June benchmarking survey, The Economy & Your Food Shopping Habits, conducted by SupermarketGuru.com on behalf of ConAgra Foods, revealed. That's 10 percentage points higher than the identical questionnaire found when initially fielded in January 2009.

Meanwhile, nine out of ten (90%) “strongly/somewhat agree” that meals prepared at home tend to healthier than those eaten out, up three percentage points from one survey to the next.  Further tipping the scales in favor of home eating is its relative economy:  73% “strongly agree” that eating at home can save a lot of money, up a full six percentage points from the January survey. Far fewer people agree today (33%) that eating out is worth it, even if it costs more and isn’t as healthy, than in January (40%).  And nearly half (48%) say now that nothing prevents them from eating healthy foods, up from 38% in January.

Research findings reflect an American fortitude in these tough times, and plenty of deliberate store trip planning to bring home the best levels of nutrition and money savings possible.  It seems as if people have spent 2009 discovering ways to achieve these goals, rather than simply accept their earlier perceptions that eating healthier is necessarily pricier.

For example, 30% “strongly agreed” in January that it costs more to eat healthy; that figure dipped to 23% by June.  Similarly, the majority of consumers (56%) who “strongly, somewhat agreed” it is difficult to eat healthy on a budget in January had shrunk by June to 50%, the data showed.  And the 69% who expressed concern about eating well on a smaller budget in January fell to 60% by June—possibly because they’ve developed effective nutrition seeking and savings tactics.

When asked how they would save money on food (multiple responses allowed), consumers’ five strategies that grew the most in the six months between surveys were:
•    Make a shopping list, 82% vs. 70%
•    Compare store circulars, 64% vs. 52%
•    Shop in a variety of stores based on their prices, 46% vs. 37%
•    Buy frozen foods, 49% vs. 40% (Related point: 80% agree that frozen foods are as healthy as fresh foods, up from 66% in January.)
•    Prepare meals at home, 90% vs. 81%

By sticking to their plans, the largest plurality of consumers (38%) believed they could save between 20% and 25% on their food consumption costs; 32% said this in January.