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    Shoppers Struggle with Healthier Eating

    New study offers insights on pressing questions facing the food industry
     

    Americans are continuing to face hurdles when planning, shopping and preparing for healthier meals, according to “Helping Shoppers Overcome the Barriers to Choosing Healthful Foods,” a new study from Catalina Marketing and the Food Marketing Institute.

    This study suggests answers to many of the most pressing questions facing the food-and-beverage industry, including the following:

    - Are retailers meeting shoppers’ needs?
    - How can the industry most effectively build trial, usage and advocacy of healthful products?
    - What are the most compelling ways to help shoppers make healthful food choices and mange their personal health concerns?

    The findings in this study show that despite the industry’s healthy-eating consumer initiatives, shoppers have not changed their old buying habits, behavior and perceptions.

    “Our primary objective in leading this research is to make it easier for both manufacturers and retailers to help shoppers make healthy nutritious choices in every aisle of the store,” said Sharon Glass, Catalina Marketing’s group VP of health, wellness and beauty. “We sought to uncover what shoppers really want and how to design programs or services that best align with their needs. Making smart nutritional choices can notably improve overall health and how we feel each day.”

    Catalina Marketing gathered the facts published in this study through an online survey generated among adults with primary responsibility for the grocery shopping in their home. More than 2,500 men and women across the United States age 21 and up responded and provided guidance on how the industry can best help them make positive choices in nutrition and lifestyle management.

    Highlights of the study include the following:

    - 50 percent of shoppers agree their supermarket helps them make healthful choices.
    - 36 percent believe their supermarket helps them manage or reduce risk of specific health concerns.
    - 38 percent of shoppers feel their grocery store provides information on foods and beverage that can help manage their personal health concerns.
    - 25 percent believe store employees are knowledgeable about nutrition. Less than a third felt supermarket employees were knowledgeable enough to provide assistance on nutrition, vitamins, nutritional supplements and OTC health remedies.
    - 77 percent believe healthy food is expensive and more than 80 percent of Americans say coupons for healthy products encourage healthy shopping.
    - 59 percent agree healthy foods and beverages generally taste good. Fast-food fans are the least to agree that healthy options generally taste good.
    - 69 percent of shoppers are interested in having their store stock freshly prepared, healthy meals; 64 percent are interested in programs that recommend healthier options for the products they generally buy through messages printed at the checkout or website tools.
    - 51 percent of Americans with children find it hard to plan healthy meals.
    - More than 40 percent of shoppers are interested in supermarkets providing recipes and information for specific health concerns, health screening services, nutritional counseling and personalized wellness plans.

    In addition, the study points out that one-third of shoppers are interested in programs that require their active participation, such as in-store cooking demonstrations, hands-on cooking lessons and store tours for healthy products. According to the findings, shoppers want a combination of convenience, cost, taste and messaging that will motivate them to replace fast food meals with healthier options.

    “Our members want an integrated approach to creating comprehensive health and wellness programs,” said Cathy Polley, FMI VP and health and wellness executive director. “Catalina Marketing’s blueprint can help them make health and wellness a reality in their supermarket.”

    The study concludes that supermarkets are uniquely positioned to implement wellness programs that will connect them with relevant products throughout the store, ultimately transforming grocery trips into healthy shopping experiences. While supermarkets are increasingly staffing select stores with a nutritionist, and making it easier for shoppers to consult with a pharmacist, there is significant opportunity to improve the knowledge of supermarket employees in nutrition, vitamins and over-the-counter health remedies.

    Shoppers are interested in programs that require minimal effort, aid when shopping for healthy products, ideas for easy-to-prepare healthy meals and provide cost saving offers for products that meet their food preferences and health concerns. The information provided to shoppers must be conveyed in simple, easy to understand formats delivered to them directly or prominently displayed in the store.
     

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