Consumer research platform Attest has identified public concern and confusion over pricing and labelling of food and beverage (F&B) wellness products.

Polling a nationally representative sample of 1,000 shoppers [17 January 2022] Attest found that 54% worry that F&B products containing health-boosting ‘special ingredients’ are overpriced, and so although 55% of consumers actively seek out F&B items to support their general health, there may be hesitancy at the till.

Attest also uncovered ‘widespread confusion’ about labelling, with consumers unsure of what is ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’. As part of the research the group was shown six varieties of cereal bars and asked to identify the healthiest choice using the Nutri-Score system; just 16% recognized the correct product. The cereal bars with the second worst level of nutritional value were selected by the vast majority (78%), while 6% chose the lowest ranking bar.  The 78% explained that the words ‘natural’, ‘protein packed’ and ‘plant-based’ on-pack led them to their incorrect choice.

This is a clear call to action for the food and beverage industry to simplify how it sells its products

Adding to this labelling confusion, 48% worry that items marketed as ‘wellness products’ aren’t as healthy as they seem; four in 10 people are concerned that there’s no scientific evidence behind claims of the health benefits of certain ingredients, and 36% don’t believe the quantity of active ingredients within the product is high enough to make a difference.

Jeremy King, CEO and founder of Attest, comments on the research: “The Attest research shows that identifying real, healthy food and beverage products appears to be a significant difficulty for consumers when shopping. As revealed by the data, packaging and product messages aren’t helping shoppers nearly enough to make informed decisions. This is a clear call to action for the food and beverage industry to simplify how it sells its products. If the industry properly addresses this issue, it can unlock genuine consumer demand, especially as more than half of UK consumers are actively looking to buy products that support their overall health.”

Trend takeaways 
Attest highlights some key developing consumer trends for 2022 found within its data:

  • The wellness ingredients with ‘the most pulling power’ in F&B are protein, omega-3 and pre/probiotics
  • The group associated each ingredient with a specific area of health: 47% associated protein with overall wellbeing and energy; 41% linked omega-3 with brain health; and 53% made the connection between pre/probiotics and for digestion
  • The F&B products consumers would like to be fortified with health-boosting ingredients are cereals and cereal bars (39%); soups and smoothies (31%); dairy (29%); and bread and bakery items (26%)
  • ‘Better immune health’ was cited by 44% of respondents as the most desirable benefit of F&B products; one quarter of Brits actively look for immunity products when they shop, and ginger, omega-3 and pre/probiotics are most highly associated with immune health
  • 45% say they supplement their diet with VMS; the most popular supplement is vitamin D, followed by vitamin C, then multi-vits.