US vs UK: which market takes the lead on wellness foods?

New consumer research shows the potential for innovation in healthy foods and drinks in America and Britain.

Our latest F&B digest takes a deep dive into wellness foods, exploring consumer attitudes to food and drink products that promise health benefits, in both the US and UK. 

We learned that both markets offer interesting opportunities for F&B brands, with significant consumer interest. But is it Brits or Americans who are most hungry for functional foods? Let’s compare the data…

US F&B Digest – Wellness foods issue

Discover data from 2,000 US consumers, exploring the latest trends and opportunities in the wellness foods sector.

Read now!

Q. Who believes most in the power of wellness foods? 

A. Americans 

Americans rank eating so-called ‘functional foods’ as the second-most likely factor to impact on their health (behind eating less sugar, salt and fat, and ahead of eating more fruits and vegetables). Brits, on the other hand, rank wellness foods third. They’re more likely to think that their eating five a day will have a bigger impact on their health. 

Q. Who’s more likely to be shopping for wellness foods? 

A. Americans 

Just over 60% of US consumers say they are consciously looking out for food and drink products to support their overall health when they shop. The UK is not far behind, though, with 55% of Brits saying the same. 

Q. Who’s willing to pay more for wellness foods? 

A. Americans 

Both markets are prepared to pay a premium for foods containing wellness ingredients; 75% of Americans and 70% of Brits say they’ll pay more than for a standard product. But Americans are likely to splash more cash; 19% said they would pay a ‘moderate’ amount more (versus 14% of Brits) and 9% would pay a ‘lot’ more (versus 3% of Brits). 

Q. Who’s most interested in obtaining better immunity through their diet? 

A. It’s a tie

When we asked respondents what health benefits they’d most like to get from food and drink products, Americans said ‘better overall health and well-being’ as their top answer. Brits, meanwhile, said ‘better immune health’. However, when we look at the percentages, we see 44% of each market desire food that supports their immune system. Likewise, 39% of both Americans and Brits want F&B products to offer better digestive health.

Q. Who has the most interest in products containing CBD/hemp?

A. Americans

CBD/hemp is an attractive ingredient in food and drink products for 16% of Americans, in comparison to 11% of Brits. We see that Americans are more likely to ascribe health benefits to CDB, with 42% associating it with relief from anxiety and depression (versus 35.5% of Brits), 45% thinking it provides relief from stress (versus 31%), and 33% believing it aids sleep (versus 23%). 

UK F&B Digest – Wellness foods issue

Discover data from 1,000 UK consumers, exploring the latest trends and opportunities in the wellness foods sector.

Read now!

Q. Who takes the most supplements? 

A. Americans 

Americans have more belief in bottled vitamins, with 61% of people taking them, and multivitamins or daily vitamins being the most popular type. In the UK, a lesser 45% of UK consumers take dietary supplements, with vitamins D and C the most common choice. 

Q. Who has the most desire for product personalisation? 

A. Americans 

In the supplements and wellness foods sector, 23% of Americans say they’re most attracted to ingredient combinations personalized to their individual needs. In the UK, this trend needs more time to mature, with only 14% of respondents saying it’s their preference to have customizable combinations. 

Q. Who’s more likely to trust brands for information about healthy foods?

A. Americans

Trust for brands is high in both markets, with the US coming ahead by just a couple of percentage points (55% of Americans trust brands for information versus 53% of Brits). But we see notably higher trust for retailers in the UK (45% versus 38%), as well as for government organizations (47% versus 37%). 

What’s the conclusion? 

The US appears to be slightly more advanced when it comes to consumer demand for wellness products, but the UK is by no means being left behind. There’s a ton of opportunity for F&B brands to bring new products to market in both countries. But with the US being more mature in terms of certain trends, like personalization and CBD, British brands can keep a keen eye on business across the pond to anticipate what’s likely to come next.  

Want to learn more about the opportunities in functional foods? Check out the UK or US editions of our F&B Digest.

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 100m global consumers. She also likes cake.

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