MINNEAPOLIS — Fat and oil type are strong purchase consideration factors for a majority of consumers, according to a recent global FATitudes study from Cargill.
The annual study, based on more than 6,000 primary household grocery shoppers in 12 countries, found 68% of consumers reported closely monitoring the type and amount of fat and oil in their packaged foods.
“Food is becoming increasingly personalized; consumers are basing their purchasing decisions on specific ingredients,” said Florian Schattenmann, chief technology officer and vice president of innovation and R&D at Cargill. “At the same time, society is driving food ingredient companies to develop more options for health-conscious consumers.”
Most consumers are checking labels for fat-related claims, the study found, and more than half reported those claims make them more likely to purchase. How often consumers read labels differed by geography, with Chinese consumers paying the closest attention (89%) and German consumers monitoring the least (48%).
In the United States, more than two-thirds of consumers reported avoiding certain fats or oils. Among those who rank as clean label seekers, 83% reported avoiding fats and oils, like saturated and trans-fat. Consumers in the South were more likely to monitor fats and oils in packaged foods than those in the Midwest.
Consumers in China and Brazil were more likely to purchase products with a sustainability claim, while consumers in Russia indicated they were most likely to purchase a product with a non-GMO claim. In most countries, an organic certification on a label was more impactful on purchasing decisions than a non-GMO certification.
Olive oil topped the list in every country for impact on purchase and perceptions of healthfulness in packaged foods, followed by fish and avocado oils. The vast majority (93%) of global consumers were aware of omega-3 fatty acids, which carry several health benefits some consumers may not get in their typical diet, Cargill said.
The company will use insights from the FATitudes study to guide product development going forward.
“This type of research is important because it gives Cargill and our customers a guidepost for our innovation efforts,” said Nese Tagma, managing director of strategy and innovation for Cargill’s global edible oils business. “As consumers’ attitudes toward fats and oils have shifted in recent years, we know they’re interested in consuming healthy amounts of oils. We’re able to offer a broad portfolio of fat and oil solutions, including our Clear Valley line, which has a canola-based product with lower saturated fat. This research is vital to guide our thinking on whether to revitalize tried-and-true products or develop a new frying oil to adapt to changing tastes and health options.”