Perceptions vs reality: Ag-West Bio survey reveals food purchasing motives

Posted on July 21, 2015

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Are your customers concerned about GMOs? What about getting a 'wheat belly?' Do they go out of their way to buy organic?

In order for food ingredients or products company to make sound business choices it is helpful to understand how consumers are making their purchasing decisions. 

Recently, Ag-West Bio commissioned Ipsos-Reid to conduct a Canada-wide, online Healthy Foods and Ingredients survey of 2201 individuals, to gather information about their purchasing habits, with the goal of giving small and medium food ingredients and products companies insight into consumers' purchasing decisions. 

 

Specifically, the research was designed to explore trends in the market, and to develop a deeper understanding of:
- Perceptions of food and dietary health; 
- Consumption of healthy foods, ingredients and natural health products; 
- Preference of product attributes, claims, ingredients  and other factors in the food purchase decision; 
- Current household health concerns; specific foods and ingredients sought for added health benefits; 
- Retail locations for the purchase of healthy food, ingredients and natural healthy products; and
- Sources of information for healthy food, ingredients and natural healthy products.

The survey uncovered a number of interesting findings that sometimes seem contradictory. A few examples: 

Most Canadians believe the foods and beverages they consume impact their health, but a much lower number actually make diet changes for overall health. As well, although two-thirds of consumers say they are concerned with controlling weight, only about one-third actually cuts back on calories. 

Respondents identified the three top items they are limiting as sugar, sodium and fats. And almost everyone claims to read the nutrition panel and ingredients list on processed foods.

Product claims such as made or grown in Canada and locally made or grown currently influence purchasing decisions the most. And the idea of sustainably, ethically produced or grown food resonates with most consumers.

Interestingly, claims of certified organic and non-GMO have less influence. Only five percent claim to actually research the topic of GMOs; most people say they just learn by chance if the topic happens to come up in conversation or is in the media.

Even though it sometimes seems that food trends have overtaken common sense, for the majority of people the most important factors in purchasing are three things with which we are very familiar: taste, freshness and price. 

Saskatchewan's value-added food sector is supported by a vibrant research cluster which includes Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the University of Saskatchewan's College of Agriculture and Bioresources Food and Bioproduct Sciences, the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre, and POS Bio-Sciences. With research support, a highly-skilled workforce, and a positive business atmosphere, Saskatchewan companies are commercializing innovative products in the value-added and natural health food sectors. To learn more, please contact Ag-West Bio.