Foods bearing “free-from” claims are of increasing interest to Americans seeking products perceived as healthy.
According to recent research from Mintel 84 percent of Americans who buy 'free-from' foods do so because they are seeking out more natural or less processed foods. Furthermore, 43 percent of US consumers agree that 'free-from' foods are healthier than foods without a 'free-from' claim, while another three in five believe the fewer ingredients a product has, the healthier it is. (59 percent).
So exactly which 'free-from' claims do consumers consider most important? Trans fat-free (78 percent) and preservative-free (71 percent). Following those, GMO-free claims are also important at 58 percent, and coming in next, sodium-free at 57 percent.
Amongst varying age groups, Mintel research shows that Millennials and Gen X are much more likely than Baby Boomers to worry about possibly harmful ingredients in the food they buy. And speaking of Millennials, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database, Millennials’ interest in 'free-from' food claims coincides with various product launches in recent years. In 2010, 11 percent of food product launches featured a low/no/reduced allergen claim. By 2014, 28 percent of food product launches boasted the claim, the highest of any free-from claim last year.
This recent data reconfirms for supermarkets that health and products and claims associated with health are still a priority for consumers. Millennials included. Supermarkets should continue to highlight healthy food products, as well as offering tips and nutritional information for various produce and ingredients. And with this research in particular highlighting an increasing interest in free from products, it also can be helpful for supermarkets to make sure their customers understand what all these claims actually mean and how they relate to consumer health. For example, what does it actually mean to be 'cholesterol free' or 'sodium free' and who would benefit from that. Consumers these days are saturated with so much information from so many places, supermarkets are in a prime position to become a reliable and trustworthy source for their shoppers health needs.