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Most of World’s Consumers Closely Watching Fat Intake, According to Study

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Most of the world’s consumers don’t want to live off the fat off their respective lands, according to Cargill’s annual FATitudes study, which found that 68 percent of consumers around the globe are closely monitoring the type and amount of fat and oil in their packaged food.

The study confirmed that consumers track what goes into their bodies by closely reading labels of packaged foods, with fat and oil type as strong purchase consideration factors.

FATitudes is a study conducted each year by the food and ingredient company to learn more about consumers’ awareness, perceptions and behaviors around fats and oils found in packaged foods, and to help inform the future of food innovation. This year, about 6,600 primary household grocery shoppers were surveyed in 12 countries including the United States, Germany, China, Brazil, the United Kingdom and more.

Other key findings from the study are:

• How often consumers read labels differs by geography. Chinese consumers pay the most attention (89 percent), and German consumers monitor the least (48 percent).

• Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of U.S. consumers report avoiding certain fats or oils, and among those who rank as “clean-label seekers,” 83 percent report avoiding certain fats or oils, like saturated and trans fats.

• Olive oil tops the list in every country for impact on purchase and perceptions of healthfulness in packaged foods, followed by fish and avocado oils.

• A vast majority of global consumers, 93 percent, were aware of omega-3s, which is an important nutrient with many health benefits some consumers don’t get through their typical diet.

“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. 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.”

According to the study, most consumers are checking labels for fat-related claims (fat-free, low fat, etc.) on packaged foods, and 54 percent say such a claim makes them more likely to purchase.

Consumers in China (62 percent) and Brazil (61 percent) indicate they are more likely to purchase a product with a sustainability claim, the report revealed. Consumers in Russia (73 percent) indicate they are more likely to purchase a product with a non-GMO claim. In most countries, an organic certification on a label is more impactful on purchasing decisions versus a non-GMO verification.

“Food is becoming increasingly personalized; consumers are basing their purchasing decisions on specific ingredients,” said Florian Schattenmann, Cargill’s vice president of innovation and R&D. “At the same time, society is driving food ingredient companies to develop more options for health-conscious consumers. Using consumer insights helps us innovate in ways that balance the societal pressures with individual preferences to create healthful, sustainable and cost-effective products.”

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