Consumers Rally for Change: 10 Key Changes Needed in the Food Industry

With rising obesity rates and increasing environmental concerns, Attest research shows consumers want food and drink brands to take action – and it might surprise you just how strongly they feel about some of the issues. 

Our Future of Food and Drink Report surveyed 1,000 UK consumers* on their views about things like the sugar tax, meat alternatives and global warming, and the most important issues the food industry needs to address.

Here are 10 key takeaways from the report your brand shouldn’t ignore!

Consumers want…

Plastic packaging to stop

When asked to explain in their own words the most pressing issues for the food industry to address, tackling the problem of plastic packaging was one of the most frequently mentioned topics. Food waste is also high on the list of consumer concerns.

To stop chemical use in food production

The majority of UK consumers (74%) agree that they are worried about chemicals used in food production. Younger people especially want things done naturally, with Gen Z (those aged 18-24) saying they are most attracted to the ‘organic’ label on food packaging. 

Products sweetened naturally instead of with refined sugar

When asked about their preference for sweet treats, 31% of consumers (the single largest proportion) said they prefer products sweetened with natural sugars such as those found in fruit or honey, over refined sugar. We also found that ‘no added sugar’ is the most popular packaging claim among UK consumers.

Brands to reduce the sugar content of their products

The second most popular choice for sweet treats is products with a reduced sugar content. Younger people in particular are likely to go for food and drink options that make this claim – 25% of those under 40 would choose this option over a full sugar or artificially sweetened snack. 

More meat-free options

Nearly 60% of consumers agree they would eat less meat if better meat-free options were available. When it comes to the meatless ‘meat’ products debuting in fast food restaurants like the Impossible Whopper at Burger King, 57% say they are potentially interested in trying them.

Unhealthy food and drink sold in plain packaging  

More than half of people (52%) agree with the government’s proposal to sell snacks high in sugar, salt or fat (like crisps, sweets and sugary drinks) in plain, minimally-branded packaging. Only 20% of consumers disagree with the plan – and the rest are yet to make up their mind.

Brands to stop targeting kids with cartoons on unhealthy products

A massive 72% of consumers agree they think it’s wrong for brands to target children with junk food by using cartoon mascots on product packaging. Only 8.5% think this is an acceptable thing for manufacturers of products high in sugar, salt or fat to be doing.

Brands to reformulate products to make them healthier

Nearly 56% of respondents agree manufacturers should make products healthier – even if it changes the way they taste (only 18.5% disagree with this). The two youngest generations feel most strongly; 64% of Gen Z and 63% of Millennials (aged 25-39) want products reformulated.

Good food to be more affordable

The biggest challenge faced by UK consumers is the cost of food. Half of people (50%) say the affordability of feeding their family is a problem. 

Brands to help them eat more healthily

The second biggest challenge for people is trying to cook healthily (35%). Millennials in particular find it hard to create healthy meals (38%) and it’s a big part of why they are attracted to food and drink subscription services. Just under 17% of those aged 25-39 are subscribed to such a service, with the top reason for subscribing being the help they offer with healthy eating. 

You’ve enjoyed the hors d’oeuvres… now sit down for the main course. Click below to read the full Future of Food & Drink Report.

*Survey to a nationally representative sample of working age UK consumers.

Bel Booker

Senior Content Writer 

Bel has a background in newspaper and magazine journalism but loves to geek-out with Attest consumer data to write in-depth reports. Inherently nosy, she's endlessly excited to pose questions to Attest's audience of 125 million global consumers. She also likes cake.

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