Not everybody pays attention to sweeteners

by Jeff Gelski
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KANSAS CITY — People may not avoid products with certain sweeteners as often as they say they do, according to a webinar presented by Food Business News on Jan. 23. Also, people in certain consumer lifestyle segments are more likely to say they avoid sweeteners.

The webinar shed details on a custom-research study involving Nielsen and Mintel Consulting and commissioned by the Corn Refiners Association, Washington. First, purchase data from May 2012 to May 2013 were gathered from 11,389 people involved in the Nielsen Homescan panel. Then, the consumers were surveyed on-line in May 2013.

Researchers divided the consumers into six groups. Three of the groups showed more of an interest in sweetener choices.

Diabetics and dieters, who made up 16% of the U.S. households, were interested in zero-calorie sweeteners. The lifestyle segment skewed to older consumers and Hispanic consumers.

Two other segments, the healthy balance seekers at 15% of U.S. households and the all-natural segment at 17%, shared similar traits. On an aided basis in the survey, they tended to say they avoided high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Upon looking at the Nielsen Homescan panel results, however, the two segments did not avoid the sweeteners as much as they said they did. The drop in consumption of artificial sweeteners in the two segments was about 20% to 25% from the other segments. Percentages for HFCS were less than that.

The other three segments did not show as much interest in sweeteners. They included no health worries, 9% of U.S. households, making ends meet, 18%, and busy life, 13%. The demographic for no health worries skewed to males with no children. People in the making ends meet segment were deal/price-oriented. Convenience and price were important to people in the busy life segment.

Every segment purchased sweetened products in all channels. The survey found consumers were motivated to purchase a food or beverage because it is good tasting (90%), good value for the price (82%), “a price I can afford” (80%) and “something I know my kids will like” (79%).

The 15 product categories included bread, carbonated beverages, milk, jams and jellies, sports drinks, spaghetti sauce, cold cereal, fruit juice, yogurt, salad dressing, ketchup, flavored still water, cereal bars, snack crackers, and cookies/snack cakes.
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