We Say We Eat Healthier, But Are We Really?

The Lempert Report
July 26, 2021

A new survey from AlixPartners finds that while nearly half of consumers believe health and wellness have become more important over the past year during the pandemic, the reality is that healthier products occupy less than a quarter of consumer spend.

The survey found 49% of consumers across six global markets and 46% of consumers in the United States believe a healthy lifestyle has become more important. But healthy options represent just 21% of consumers’ wallets across all product categories. The survey also found that the primary barriers preventing consumers from purchasing healthier products are price, a lack of clear product information and availability in stores. “Healthier products tend to have a price premium, but that has gone down in terms of being a barrier,” said Randy Burt, managing director at AlixPartners. “What’s emerged as a more effective barrier for food is taste and variety.” The survey found prepared refrigerated and frozen meals are attracting more demand for healthier options than any other food or non-food product category. Half of the surveyed consumers said there is a lack of fresh and frozen ready meal options in stores and that they would like to see a greater range made available. In addition, forty-seven percent of consumers said they want to see healthier salty snack options, and 44% said the same for bread and baked foods. Consumers also said they want to see healthier confectionery products (41%), breakfast cereals (39%) dairy products and dairy-free alternatives (38%), and fresh meat and meat alternatives (37%).

Consumers also are becoming more aware of what it takes to be healthy, according to the survey. Seven in 10 consumers said they have a strong understanding of nutrition. “Understanding around what is good and what is not good is much higher, so educating becomes less important while taste and variety become more important,” Burt said. Consumers also are attaching health and wellness to broader environmental and social factors, he added. “It’s about authenticity and being able to communicate that you not only have the nutrition, value and taste, but also that the animals, people and environment that are part of the supply chain are all treated fairly and ethically along the way.”