Better-for-You Labels No Longer Resonating With Consumers

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Better-for-You Labels No Longer Resonating With Consumers


CHICAGO — Americans are cutting back on consumption of foods and beverages promoted with better-for-you labels, according to the 29th annual Eating Patterns in America report, recently released by The NPD Group.

Through the year ended February 2014, Americans consumed 1.9 products per person per day with a label that indicated one of the 12 better-for-you attributes. That is down 27 percent from 2008, when Americans consumed 2.6 of these products per person per day.

The 2014 figure represents the sixth straight year that consumption of these foods has declined, the NPD report revealed.

The 12 better-for-you label attributes are:

  • Reduced fat
  • Low calorie
  • Diet
  • Light
  • Reduced cholesterol
  • Reduced sodium
  • Caffeine free
  • Sugar free
  • Fortified
  • Organic
  • Low carb
  • Whole grain

“It seems we have entered a new phase of marketing health to the American consumer. The first phase, back in the '80s and '90s, focused on avoiding harmful substances in our food, such as fat, cholesterol and sodium,” said Harry Balzer, senior vice president and NPD’s chief food industry analyst. “The second phase, from the mid-'90s to just a few years ago, was a move to add more beneficial substances in our diet, such as whole grains, dietary fiber and probiotics.

"It appears we are in the third phase of  the ‘healthy food revolution,’" he continued. "In this latest evolution, consumers appear to be avoiding foods and beverages that were made to be better for them and instead consumers are going for products that are real and not altered.”

Conversely, Americans are increasingly concerned about genetically modified foods. According to The NPD Group, 57 percent of Americans believe modified foods can pose a health risk, compared to 46 percent one decade ago.

“Have we altered the food supply so much to make it better for us that there is now a backlash against those products?” asked Balzer. “It is looking like we want more of our foods and beverages to be natural. I think we’re looking for foods and beverages to be as they were meant to be. It is part of the new ‘healthy food revolution’ happening in this country.”

The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services intended to drive better business decisions.